Vermonters’ ‘new normal’ this year will soon include closer encounters with banana peels, apple cores, cheese bits, chicken bones and literally tons of other food scraps. As of July 1, the state will complete its ban on leftovers from landfills: No more tossing them into garbage bags; no more out-of-sight, out-of-mind disposal of what’s left on your plate.

The alternatives require some thought, but not a great deal of effort or expense, the experts tell us. In other words, you won’t have to wade knee-deep into compost unless you really want to. But you’ll be doing everyone a favor if you peel off every little fingerprint-sized sticker from your groceries — and pitch them in the trash.

Some compost aficionados believe the least wasteful way to deal with unwanted food is to plan meals more carefully and to reduce spoilage in what you buy. Michele Morris, director of outreach and communications at Williston-based Chittenden Solid Waste District (CSWD), echoed the global “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra that for decades has spelled out an earth-friendlier way of consuming food. Consider: CSWD estimates that Americans toss out about 25% of the food they buy. “Food has become relatively affordable in this country, and it’s made us somewhat lazy as a culture,” Morris said Thursday.

She urges shoppers to study what goes into a batch of produce — the energy, the fertilizer, the water, the packaging, the transportation — to appreciate what is lost when we throw away spoiled groceries. The coronavirus pandemic might be as good a time as any for folks to form new habits, Morris added. “If you don’t create that waste in the first place,” she said, “you don’t have to manage it.”

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Joel Banner Baird, Burlington Free Press
Photo: Joel Banner Baird, Burlington Free Press