Food Trash: fanatically troublesome for animals’ habitat?

September 7, 2013
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7 inches by 15 inches by 10 inches: this is a typical size of my family’s trash bag. Once or twice a week, I have had an encounter of throwing my family’s trash bags into the recycling bins. Any distance closer than five feet from the trash bag is so called the “region of hell” and I can surely confirm that it becomes ten feet during the summer. I had always complained how I had to deal with all the food trash that two of my younger siblings mostly left. But this phenomenon is not only problematic for my family; it also applies to other families living in other parts of this apartment. There is just a combination of stinking smells consisting of soy paste, garlic, dog sauce, curry, rotten eggs, and more.
Until two months ago, I had a naive thought that all the food trashes must be wiped off the planet that they were the ones to be kicked off and burned off. I felt empathy with such viewpoint myself as I helped my mom recycle and throw away trash. My apartment has a trash bin in each building and it collects all the food trash. In the process of collecting them, it also distracts many of us from the noise and smell. Although I’m a pet-lover, the fact that so many cats and mice come around at night with high-pitch noise irritates my every sense of nerves. My concern that many of those animals end up eating the most vulgar stuffs on the planet was also present. As such, my perspective on food trash was rather skeptical, if not pessimistic.
However, one significant snapshot totally transformed my way of thought about food wastes. Sometime in this past mid-July, I had encountered one part of discovery channel where all the food trash were moved into a large facility and converted into soil fertilizer and bio-gasoline, so-called bio-fuel. What I had seen on the show were very amazing process: the show with duration of 12 minutes totally persuaded my preconception that food wastes are wastes that must be eradicated and dumped into the seas and grounds.
For example, the program explained in detail what pretreatment process is, how fermentation is conducted, and how remnants of food wastes in the process of turning them into bio-diesel or bio-gasoline can be re-utilized as soil fertilizer. After doing further research about the potential use of food wastes as the source of energy, it was profound to discover that food industry accounts for 8% of all energy used in the United States and that United States, for example, alone produces about 30 million tons of food wastes every year. It was also interesting to note that bio-gasoline or bio-diesel produced from food wastes is much more environmentally friendly than the conventional petroleum-driven diesel or gasoline. Acknowledging the advantages of this process, I was convinced that food wastes can be recycled as something precious.
Time has passed through summer vacation and fall semester was initiated. Since the 9th grade, I have participated in the PAIN (Poor Animals In Need) activity, one that fosters and promotes better environment for animals to live on our planet. We visit animal shelters in Dapshipli, Seongdong district every once a week, do petitions in different areas every twice a month, and do fundraisings every once a week. For this year, we plan to raise awareness not only within our school but to all of the students attending an international school in Seoul by holding concerts with Korean actors/singers who are famous for loving animals, doing petitions together, holding adoption nights, and holding bazaars on special days like Christmas, thanksgiving, and new years. As I re-started my extracurricular activity at school, one phrase in our club booklet caught my attention: “sustainable environment”.
Right! I now totally understand what the phrase means! Building “sustainable environment” for animals is not only that animals be provided with safer environment to live but also that all of our members should work hard to make sure how we can make a harmony between the presence of food trash and habitat for animals. Since then, now I understand the underlying principles of food wastes: food is never a waste, and everything can be re-generated!
As I start connecting the dots between the remnants of food wastes (soil fertilizer) and animal’s livestock and between the usage of environmentally-friendly gasoline (bio-gasoline) and its effects on animals’ habitats, my passion now heads towards how animals could live together with food wastes. Although my knowledge about food trash is just a heavy-starter, my direction and goal is clear: what does it mean to have “sustainable environment” for animals with food trash? As I smell each food trash plastic bag, somehow flagrant smell now seems to present in my nose. Now, I’m heading towards my goal to make connections between the usage of bio-fuel and its impact on the environment, and how soil fertilizer can be used as a feedstock for many animals wandering in the middle of the roads. Although my age is just 17, my enthusiasm is as grandiose as that of Thomas Edison.

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