Sarasota composting program helps restaurants reduce waste

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As they prepare food, the kitchen staff at Louis Modern in Sarasota makes sure no scraps are thrown in the trash. 

Even the stems of cilantro and little end pieces of green onion are carefully saved, placed in buckets provided by the city. 

The buckets are later picked up and taken to a facility for composting.

Louis General Manager Christian Mora says from the restaurant's perspective, it's a win-win solution.

"Within a day, all the buckets were full," Mora said. "It's a cycle. It's less trash. It's all the good that comes from the compost and all the negative things that are reduced." 

Scraps end up at One Stop Landscape and Supply. 

"The food waste should be a really good nitrogen product with the mulch," said John Desrosiers. 

Owner John Desrosiers plans to test the benefits of the new compost within a year, but he already knows: "Our compost is the best in Florida, that's how I would describe it." 

He says compost made locally has many benefits.

"The bugs that are in this compost are indigenous to this area versus a soil or compost that is produced elsewhere," he explained.

That compost will end up feeding yards and landscapes across Sarasota and beyond. And it sends a message that food scraps aren't just trash. 

"They are something we should think of as an asset. We take so much from the soil and we really should be returning our food scraps to the soil," said Stevie Freeman-Montes, the sustainability manager for the city of Sarasota. 

The city also teamed up with Sunshine Community Compost for its Compost-A-Thon, during which 100 residents learned about composting and then composted their kitchen scraps for a week.

At the end of the week, the compost will be combined and weighed at a celebration and lunch party scheduled at noon on Saturday, May 1 at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex.

The city is considering a permanent composting program for the future.

If you're interested in composting at home, the University of Florida has a website dedicated to the topic.