Gretel Clark has spent the last few decades of her 84 years on a mission to save the planet, starting with the trash-disposal habits of her town of Hamilton. This month, thanks largely to her efforts, the town became the first in the state to mandate composting for all its residents. The program puts Hamilton on par with cities like San Francisco and Seattle, as well as the State of Vermont, which rolled out a statewide composting mandate last year.
The changes come at a critical moment, as municipalities across the state wage war against waste and people spend more time at home — and thus create more trash. Pulling organic material like table scraps out of the waste stream makes trash weigh less, which means towns and cities could pay less to have it hauled away. And diverting organics is better for the planet: Putting those materials back into the earth through composting helps plants pull more carbon from the air and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, which combats climate change.
“Quite frankly, it’s a very simple thing to ask people to do,” Clark said. “We’re not doing something revolutionary.”