Sands ECO360, Las Vegas Sands’ global sustainability program, was created to reduce the company’s environmental footprint on the planet, as well as encourage Team Members to consider a sustainable lifestyle. Through many of its initiatives towards recycling, water and energy conservation, and food waste reduction, Sands Academy and the sustainability team in Las Vegas partnered together to provide Team Members with a course on composting.
Rachel Lewison, Southern Nevada recycling coordinator for the Bureau of Waste Management, provided a demonstration for Team Members at The Venetian and The Palazzo to have a grasp on composting. In addition to the sustainable initiatives implemented around the property, Lewison noted that reducing food waste is actually the easiest because everyone eats, but you just have to be mindful—which can start at the Team Member Dining Rooms (TDR).
About 40 percent of food waste goes straight to landfill. Food waste from the TDR’s are sent to the local pig farm to be boiled for the pigs. Team Members eating outside of the TDR’s can help divert food waste through composting. Taking the time to compost food materials provides benefits for both the environment and those who are looking to improve the health of their garden. Lewison emphasized that composting can be very simple, and Team Members can start it at home.
“If you have a water bottle, recycle it. Take it a step further, if you have an apple core, compost it,” she said.
Lewison described the steps to composting as a “worm sandwich.” To start, Team Members would need a large storage bin with a lid that has holes and a screen over it, shredded newspaper, red wiggler worms, and food waste. Lewison said to coat the bottom of the storage bin with shredded newspaper, then dump the worms in, add food, and top it off with more newspaper. She recommends spraying water just enough that it looks like it’s a wrung out sponge. The livelihood of the worms is important as they will need to be in a controlled environment, have air, water, and food. Worms eat natural decay and should help with the smell of food waste. Their castings can be an essential addition to a garden.
“If you are composting right, it shouldn’t smell,” Lewison said. “If it smells, there’s too much food and the worms can’t eat the bacteria fast enough.”
Those who are interested in starting should only compost fruits, veggies, eggshells, teabags, coffee, and coffee filters. They should not compost meat, dairy, things with peels, or other items that can go rancid.