Composting can help Villa de Matel to obtain Zero Waste.

by Monica Hatcher, Director of Social Concerns

The results of a recent waste audit conducted at Villa de Matel showed a recycling rate of 34 percent at the Houston-based CCVI motherhouse and convent, a strong effort that nonetheless reveals ample room for improvement.

The recycling rate, along with an estimate of the total weight of garbage produced at the Villa, will provide helpful benchmarks in moving toward an ambitious Zero Waste goal over the coming years. Zero Waste generally refers to a waste management program in which 90 percent of waste is diverted from area landfills by refusing, reducing, reusing, recycling and composting. The effort is part of a Creation Care commitment made by the CCVI Sisters in March of 2018.

The waste audit report also revealed that just over 20 percent of the Villa’s total waste volume comes from organic waste, which can be eliminated by composting. Organic waste includes food scraps and plate scrapings, coffee grounds and filters, as well as soiled paper and other compostable refuse. As a result, a compost hauling service or in-house program is being researched. Methane gases from decaying organic waste in landfills contribute significantly to climate change. By composting, organic refuse is essentially recycled back into the soil, returning nutrients such as carbon, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus into the earth, helping curb greenhouse gasses and making healthy soil.

Other findings revealed another 20 percent of the Villa’s waste stream is medical waste, which poses a significant recycling challenge. We encourage everyone who lives, works and visits the Villa to help us in our Go Zero goal by refusing to use unrecyclable items, like straws and styrofoam, and by ensuring that, while on the grounds, everyone properly recycles each and every recyclable item for the sake of the home we inhabit together.

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