“The experience showed me that there were other ways to use your food scraps rather than just throwing them in a trash can.”
Name: Anna Hoffman
Hometown: Darien, CT
Transformational Experience: Ghana: Building Healthy Villages
Making An Impact: Convinced her family to implement a home composting system
Passion: Environmental sustainability
Change starts at home, as the saying goes.
When Anna Hoffman, 2018 GLA alumna, returned from the Ghana: Building Healthy Villages™ program, she wanted to make a change, quite literally, in her household.
“I saw in Ghana how they let nothing go to waste and when I came home, I saw how the majority of what we threw away was food. Seeing how wasteful we were inspired me to try and spark change.”
As part of the Building Healthy Villages program, volunteers build compostable latrines in a rural Ghanaian community that has limited access to running water and sanitary waste disposal facilities. Because of this, the residents are prone to sanitation-related diseases, a leading cause of death in the area. This project, an eco-friendly and modern innovation, also produces high-quality fertilizer that can increase crop yields and sustain nutritious diets.
“The experience showed me that there were other ways to use your food scraps rather than just throwing them in a trash can. At the eco lodge I was staying at, they made us dump all of our food scraps into a bucket, which after the meal they would go and feed to the pigs. These pigs would then grow up and could be sold as meat at the market. They could then use the money to buy new piglets. They had created a sustainable system that was using all of their waste and was actually generating a source of income. I was inspired by the creativity that they had to develop a system that was sustainable but also maintainable.”
Bringing It Home
One night at dinner, Anna proposed the idea of building a home composter to her family. “At first, they were hesitant and unsure of what we were getting ourselves into but agreed,” she says.
And thus, the Hoffman family composter was born.
After a ceremonial dumping of the first load of compost, “feeding” the composter became as regular a task as taking out the garbage. In spite of some initial resistance from her younger brother (because let’s face it, chores are no one’s favorite), the family worked out a schedule and developed some tricks to make the process more streamlined. Pro tip from Anna: reuse compostable bags as liners, so that the transfer from indoor bucket to outdoor composter is mess-free yet still environmentally friendly.
It didn’t hurt that Anna’s father, an avid gardener, would also benefit from the rich soil that the composter would produce.
Anna also convinced her mother to make the switch from paper to cloth napkins — a very small household change which will save a whopping 88,000 paper napkins from the landfill each year.
How To Get Involved
For a step-by-step tutorial on how to start composting in your own backyard, check out this helpful article from the DIY network! Apartment living? Not a problem! Check out alternatives here or get your composting fix on GLA’s fourteen-day Ghana: Building Healthy Villages program.
Environmental work not your jam? Anna’s got some words of wisdom: “Follow your passion. You are more likely to engage and continue a project that you are interested in. If you like animals, do a project with animals. If you are interested in the environment, start a save the environment club. I have found that my compost project has stuck longer than any of my New Year’s resolutions, and I believe that it is primarily because I feel passionate about the topic.”