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A Low-Tech Approach to a Greener Future

At GSA, we are implementing innovative methods to reduce waste and decrease our carbon footprint.   At two of our federal courthouses in Hammond, Indiana and Chicago, thousands of red worms are now hard at work reducing waste and creating organic fertilizer.  This low-tech solution is diverting food scraps and paper from landfills in the Great Lakes region. These worms can eat up to half their weight in food waste each day, which will help us to compost about 80 pounds of food waste each week.  The process is called “vermicomposting.”  Here is how it works: Food scraps from the building cafeterias are fed to the worms, which helps GSA reduce the building’s organic waste stream.  The worms eat the food, along with shredded office paper, to create compost that can be used as organic fertilizer – talk about reducing and reusing!There are about 30,000 worms at work at the Everett M. Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago.  The Hammond Federal Courthouse in Indiana has well over 5,000 worms.  In Hammond the compost is being used to fertilize the federal courthouse there, while in Chicago the compost will be donated to a local youth garden.

This organic fertilizer contains no phosphorus, which is one of the main pollutants in the Great Lakes watershed.  So we are reducing waste and saving the Great Lakes, too!

GSA is always looking for new ways to reduce our impact on the environment.  Under Executive Order 13514, President Obama directed federal agencies to lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies. GSA is leading this initiative by bringing sustainability to the federal fleet, public buildings, and the federal workplace.

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