Welcome to BioBag’s Community Heroes series! Each month, we will highlight community heroes that are making a difference in their communities and working to make their local environments cleaner and healthier.
This month, we are taking a look at Garbage to Garden!
Founded in 2012 and based in Portland, Maine, Garbage to Garden is a curbside compost service that offers urban residents, schools and commercial businesses a convenient way to recycle food scraps. Today, Garbage to Garden is the most successful market-based curbside composting company in the Northeast, servicing over 8,000 households, schools, restaurants, businesses, and events throughout Maine and Massachusetts.
We spoke to Phoebe Lyttle from Garbage to Garden to learn a little more about the organization.
What led you to start your composting operation?
Lyttle: In August of 2012, GtG Founder Tyler Frank was living in a 2nd story apartment in Portland, ME, and like most urban dwellers, didn’t have space available for a compost pile. Tyler and his roommates pondered why they couldn’t just put compost out on the curb like trash and recycling, and in the moment between wondering and wishing, Garbage to Garden took root. Days later, Frank set up a table during a First Friday Artwalk, and by the end of the evening, 17 households subscribed to the service, and then the real fun began!
Who do you serve, and how can people get in touch with you if they want to start composting?
Lyttle: Garbage to Garden serves the following communities:
From our Portland, Maine based HQ: Bath, Biddeford, Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland, Falmouth, Gorham, North Yarmouth, Portland, Scarborough, Standish, South Portland, Westbrook, Windham, Yarmouth
From our satellite operation based in Saugus, Massachusetts: Arlington, Belmont, Medford, Somerville
Interested folks can sign up on our website at garbagetogarden.org, email us at email@example.com or call us at 207-332-0277 in Maine and 617-977-4547 in Massachusetts.
How much organic material do you typically take in on a weekly basis?
Lyttle: Garbage to Garden collects nearly 80-100 tons of organic waste per week from over 10,000 households and hundreds of businesses, schools, and other organizations.
Please give us one fun fact about you or your business.
Lyttle: Local breweries provide us with their spent grain bags, which we upcycle by sewing them in-house to make the bags that we use to store the lids to our buckets on the route! In this same vein, we also collect used cooking oil from our participants which we bring to Maine Standard Biofuels who make the soap we use to wash the buckets!
Is there any additional information about your operation that you’d like to share?
Lyttle: We are very community-oriented at GtG! In an effort to make composting affordable and accessible to everyone, participants can receive free service in exchange for getting involved in the community. We send out a newsletter each month that lists volunteer opportunities in Maine and Massachusetts! Questions pertaining to our volunteer program can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also service many local businesses. In addition to our commercial composting services, we provide comprehensive recycling services for a wide range of businesses including office buildings, cafes, schools, breweries, dispensaries, you name it! We offer a flexible, cost-effective service as well as helpful signage and education to keep service smooth and accessible for everyone involved.
Garbage to Garden will provide anything from a 32-gallon toter for compostables at your backyard BBQ to fully staffed waste management at multi-day music festivals! We are looking forward to the time when we can safely gather at events like this in 2021 and beyond!
If you would like to be featured in a future edition of Community Heroes, please email us at email@example.com.