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Community Hero: Reclaimed Organics

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 Reclaimed Organics!

Reclaimed Organics was started in 2014 in the East Village (NYC) by neighborhood members committed to sustainability at home and in the community. The program was founded on the knowledge that properly addressing the organic waste stream is a fundamental piece of creating sustainable urban communities. We spoke to Operations Manager Gwen Ossenfort about Reclaimed Organics. Her interview is transcribed below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Gwen: Our founder Laura Rosenshine launched Reclaimed Organics in late 2014 after she transitioned from a corporate career track to one focused on organics recycling, waste diversion, and sustainability. Laura and the early Reclaimed Organics and Common Ground Compost programs were lucky to have their home based in a neighborhood middle and high school garden space that was underutilized. Laura connected with the school and offered to continue the student compost education programming (launched by Earth Matter) in exchange for access to the space. A suite of community-scale zero waste services grew out of demand Laura was seeing from local businesses, and the growing Common Ground Compost team worked to build greater community engagement in the space, including helping to re-launch a formal community garden.

The zero waste services included pickups of compost from a handful of food scrap producers including residents, cafes, and a food photography studio, which Laura and one team member did on her own bicycle with a small trailer: this was the sprout of Reclaimed Organics. Common Ground Compost‘s zero waste consulting services also began at that time, with Laura helping food businesses and event producers to build, launch, and operate organics diversion and recycling programs in their unique environments.

In 2017, we had 25 customers. As of February 2020, we had more than 120, including dozens of corporate offices.

Who do you serve, and how can people get in touch with you if they want to start composting?

Gwen: Reclaimed Organics is a cargo-trike-powered compost pickup service. We collect food scraps from residents and businesses in Manhattan, and ensure that the food scraps are composted locally, either by our own hands in our community garden, or by professional composters in the City and region.

Education is a huge part of what we do: we offer signage to all of our customers and conduct trainings with our commercial business customers to be sure that staff not only understand what to compost, but can grasp *why* this small action is so important.

Visiting ReclaimedOrganics.org and CommonGroundCompost.com is a great way to learn more about what we do and sign up for our services. We’re also very active on Instagram @reclaimedorganics 

How much organic material do you typically take in on a weekly basis?

Gwen: 2019 was our biggest year yet ~ we picked up more than 115 tons of food scraps from 120+ businesses and residences in Manhattan. That’s about 2 tons or 4,000 pounds a week. We were on track to double that in 2020. Most of this material was processed at large commercial compost facilities near the NYC.

In March of this year, all of our customers closed down and we suspended any compost collection for 7 weeks. On May 1st, we launched a new Residential Compost Collection service specifically to fill the gap left by NYC’s suspension of residential compost programming. Within a few weeks, we signed up 75 new residential customers and currently collect 600 – 700 pounds of compost weekly, solely from this residential route. Our business customers are slowly beginning to re-open as well. All of this material is processed by hand either at our garden HQ in the East Village or by Earth Matter on Governors Island.

Please give us one fun fact about your business.

Gwen: Since we launched in 2014, we had been the only bike-powered micro hauler for compost in Manhattan (for now!) As more entrepreneurs discover that food scrap collection can be a viable business, as well as a perfect example of a closed loop economic model, the landscape of compost collection in NYC is changing daily. We are all working hard to #SaveOurCompost and everyone is welcome to the table (just put your food scraps in the bucket when you’re done eating!)

If you would like to be featured in a future edition of Community Heroes, please email us at marketing@biobagusa.com.


Community Hero: Heather Gardens

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 the Heather Gardens Green Team! Co-President Virginia L. Anthony, along with team members Marsha Bengen and Janet Arce, sent us the following message about their organization.

The Heather Gardens Green Team in Aurora, Colorado thanks BioBag Americas for giving us the opportunity to be their Community Hero of the Month.

Heather Gardens is an Active Adult 55+ Community in Aurora, Colorado. The community covers 198 acres, with 2426 units of various sizes and styles and approximately 3800 resident owners. Amenities include a 9-hole executive golf course, tennis courts, clubhouse, restaurant, pools, classes and clubs, one of them being the Heather Gardens Green Team. The goal of the Heather Gardens Green Team is to help make Heather Gardens “Greener.”

In 2018 , the Green Team applied for a City of Aurora’s Neighborhood Beautification Grant. One of the issues and complaints at Heather Gardens was that not all residents were cleaning up after their dogs. This was despite dog waste containers being distributed throughout the property and plastic grocery bags available to residents for that purpose. The Green Team looked for solutions to both the mess and plastic bags going to the landfill!

While researching solutions, the Green Team learned that there was a dog waste composting facility in Longmont, Colorado called Envirowagg. Envirowagg is one of only two such facilities in the entire United States! At the facility, dog waste is composted into both compost and a potting soil mixture for non-edible plants.

What an innovative idea we thought. But ???!!! Would Heather Gardens residents, the HGA Board, and the City of Aurora Neighborhood Beautification Grant Committee like this unusual proposal? Yup! They sure did!

The grant funded the first 3 months of our program and allowed us to purchase: 7 containers for the collection of dog waste in compostable bags; signs for these containers to indicate they were for compostable dog waste bags only; Biobags for 30 dogs for the first three months; and Pet Scoop service – a local company that picks up and brings the dog waste to Envirowagg to be composted.

Once the initial 30 dog pilot program was up and running, we sent out a questionnaire for participants to complete. The overwhelming majority wanted the program to continue. The only issue residents had was the need for additional compostable dog waste bins. Heather Gardens is a large property with 2.5 miles of sidewalk making a loop around and through the community. The Green Team approached the Heather Gardens Foundation for funds to purchase enough additional bins with signage so that each regular mesh dog waste bin had a companion compostable dog waste bin. This gave a total of 26 compostable and 26 regular dog waste bins.

The program continues to grow with more and more residents registering for the program. The last Friday of each month, residents come to the HG Clubhouse and receive their free compostable Biobags for the next month. (During COVID -19, the Green Team has been delivering bags to residents buildings.) Currently we have 200 dogs in our program.

Each week, members of the Green Teen check the compostable bins for non-compostable bags and trash which, despite our prominent signage, happens. Envirowagg can handle some plastic, but we try to keep our bins as compostable as we can. Heather Gardens Roads and Grounds Department empties the bins twice a week and deposits the contents into our Pet Scoop containers in our Maintenance Yard. Heather Gardens residents and staff have observed we have less dog waste left undisposed of around our property. 

As far as we know Heather Gardens is the only HOA with a Compostable Dog Waste Collection Program (or PPP for short – Puppy Poop Program). On a recent visit by Pet Scoop to pick up our waste and transport it to Envirowagg, they estimated that Heather Gardens dogs contribute about 1000 pounds, or half a ton, of poop per month, which is turned into usable environmentally friendly products by Envirowagg.

We hope these endeavors will inspire others to do the same!

For more information on Pet Scoop, please contact them at petscoop.com. Envirowagg can be reached at envirowagg.com.

A flyer regarding this pilot program can be downloaded here. For more information on the Heather Gardens Green Team about this or our other programs, please contact Janet Arce at arcej1946@gmail.com or Ginny Anthony at vlanthony10@gmail.com.

Happy Composting!    
The Heather Gardens Green Team

If you would like to be featured in a future edition of Community Heroes, please email us at marketing@biobagusa.com.


Community Hero: Earthbound Environmental Solutions

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 Earthbound Environmental Solutions!

Earthbound Environmental Solutions was founded in 2014 and offers a number of dynamic and innovative organics recycling services to support the waste management needs of the Chippewa Valley area in Wisconsin. BioBag Associate Michael Downss spoke to principal owners Jamie and Zacharious Pappas about Earthbound Environmental Solutions. Their interview is transcribed below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Jamie & Zacharious: The thought – ‘Why can’t a garbage company change the world?’ At Earthbound, we created a waste management system where we collect 4 different waste streams year-round, all in one curbside stop. We’re re-imagining garbage! Earthbound collects organics, yard waste, recycling, and refuse. In doing so, we not only divert food waste from entering the landfill, but we can also observe how an organics recycling program impacts waste generations overall, which is pretty exciting stuff for us!

We see over-consumption as a critical factor that creates negative outcomes in many sectors, including waste, and want to help individuals and families make better decisions with their purchasing power as well as post-consumer waste diversion. All of the organic material Earthbound collects is processed at our compost facility, which is a 52-acre campus licensed for both food and yard waste processing.

Who do you serve, and how can people get in touch with you if they want to start composting?

Jamie & Zacharious: Earthbound offers 3 different programs; 1) A full service curbside program for residents consisting of the 4 waste streams being collected, 2) An organics-only program in cases where the resident wishes to use Earthbound just for organics diversion, and 3) A commercial program for business who wish to divert their organics.

Folks who are interested in services simply reach out via email, letting us know what they are looking for and when they’d like to start. We work closely with subscribers to provide the best and most informational start up to waste management services you’ve probably ever had! 

How much organic material do you typically take in on a weekly basis?

Jamie & Zacharious: We just recently completed a 3 year pilot for both the hauling and processing components of our model. During that time, Earthbound was hauling and processing roughly 20,000 lbs per week.  

Please give us one fun fact about your business.

Jamie & Zacharious: Earthbound has created many programs to serve our community. Our Everyone! Program creates meaningful employment opportunities for community members of all abilities, marginalized community members, and historically underemployed community members. Following our pilot completion we are creating our Garbage to Gardens program, which will combat food insecurity through targeted donations to programs creating community garden efforts. 

If you would like to be featured in a future edition of Community Heroes, please email us at marketing@biobagusa.com.


Community Hero: Curbside Compost

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 Curbside Compost!

Curbside Compost is a program that picks up food scraps and delivers compost with a focus on the Fairfield and Westchester County communities in Connecticut. BioBag Associate Michael Downss spoke to Nick Skeadas of Curbside Compost about his organization. Their interview is transcribed below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Nick: We just thought that we really needed to do this service here in this market. Composting wasn’t being offered, and we wanted to get the food scraps out of the waste stream.

Who do you serve, and how can people get in touch with you if they want to start composting?

Nick: People can reach out to us at curbcompost.org, email us at info@curbcompost.org or call my cell phone at 914-646-6890. These are the best ways to get in touch with us. A list of communities served for residential collection can be found on the home page of the website. Commercial tote service is also available.

How much organic material do you typically take in on a weekly basis?

Nick: We take in about 4,500 lbs. of organic material a week. 

Please give us one fun fact about your business.

Nick: One 32-gallon toter full of fish weighs 190 pounds!

If you would like to be featured in a future edition of Community Heroes, please email us at marketing@biobagusa.com.

 


Community Hero: O-Town Compost

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 O-Town Compost!

O-Town Compost’s mission is to become a key component of the City of Orlando’s waste diversion infrastructure to help the city meet its zero-waste goals. O-Town Compost founder Charlie Pioli comes from a career in solid waste/recycling consulting and started O-Town Compost to give neighbors in East Orlando a sustainable option for their waste. BioBag Associate Michael Downss spoke to Charlie about his organization. Their interview is transcribed below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Charlie: [O-Town Compost started] after spending 3+ years as a solid waste and recycling consultant based in Orlando, FL. During this time, I experienced how our country’s solid waste infrastructure works, and I’m disenchanted with how wasteful we are. In my opinion, even the standard recycling of paper, bottles, and cans lacks true environmental benefit. I was introduced to community composting while attending college in Boston, MA and subscribing to Bootstrap Compost. I carried that business model throughout my short career as a consultant and decided to put it into action here in Orlando. 

Who do you serve, and how can people get in touch with you if they want to start composting?

Charlie: We serve residential subscribers, offices and small commercial clients, and do events. Additionally, we started a new service targeting local horse stables and farmers to help them manage their manure or byproducts. Go to www.o-towncompost.com for more info on all our services.

How much organic material do you typically take in on a weekly basis?

Charlie: Anywhere from 1,300-1,500 pounds. 

Please give us one fun fact about your business.

Charlie: I like to take my dog, Ginger, on my residential routes with me. She loves sticking her head out the window for car rides, and I’ve nicknamed the service “Duber.” 

If you would like to be featured in a future edition of Community Heroes, please email us at marketing@biobagusa.com.

 


Community Hero: Black Earth Compost

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 Black Earth Compost!

 

Black Earth Compost was founded in January 2011, in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Originally a one man, one truck company, it has steadily grown to become the leading full service compost company in New England. Black Earth Compost is dedicated to collecting food scraps from residents, schools, supermarkets, colleges, and more. They then return the compost they create to consumers, selling it in garden centers across Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. BioBag Associate Michael Downss spoke to Conor Miller, founder of Black Earth Compost. Their interview is transcribed below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Conor: I lived in Seattle and had curbside compost and thought this should be in MA because composting is important for reducing waste and growing food.

Conor Miller (left) of Black Earth Compost

Conor Miller (left) of Black Earth Compost

Who do you serve, and how can people get in touch with you if they want to start composting?

Conor: We serve eastern MA commercial stops and residents. They can sign up on our website.

How much organic material do you typically take in on a weekly basis?

Conor: We collect about 180 tons/week.

Please give us one fun fact about your business.

Conor: We invented and build our own toter lifts and [currently have] 18 trucks, probably three times more organics trucks than any other company in New England.

Black Earth Compost Truck

If you would like to be featured in a future edition of Community Heroes, please email us at marketing@biobagusa.com.

 


BioBag Announced as a Finalist in the 2020 Sustainable Business Awards

We are proud to announce that we have been selected as a finalist for The Sustany Foundation’s 2020 Sustainable Business Awards! 

Founded in 2007, The Sustany Foundation is dedicated to advancing sustainability initiatives in the Tampa Bay region and has served as the leading resource for the sustainable business community for over a decade. The Sustainable Business Awards are The Sustany Foundation’s hallmark event and honor companies and organizations in the Tampa Bay area that embrace the three pillars of the triple bottom line; people (social impact), planet (environmental impact) and profit (economic impact and governance).

Criteria for each pillar is as follows:

  • People (Social Impact): Is a good citizen of Tampa Bay and the world through fair and beneficial business practices for employees, community and supply chain
  • Planet (Environmental Impact): Contributes to the environmental health of Tampa Bay through sustainable environmental practices
  • Profit (Economic Impact & Governance): Committed to good governance. Provides a positive economic impact in the Tampa Bay community while aligning sustainability values throughout the organization

Each January, the public is invited to nominate local businesses and organizations that are leading the way in sustainable practices. “This is the second year we received over 100 nominations from the open call,” said Andrea Cheney, President of the Sustany Foundation, “we are thrilled to see so many companies in the Tampa Bay area integrating sustainability into their operations.”

Winners will be announced live on September 16th at the 12th Annual Sustainable Business Awards Green Carpet Gala at the historic Tampa Theatre. The event is open to the public and draws a packed house of sustainability professionals, business leaders, government officials, academia, non-profits, and like-minded community organizations and individuals. Since 2008, more than 120 businesses have received the Sustainable Business Award for their commitment to social responsibility and environmental stewardship. We hope to be among them this September!

To read The Sustany Foundation’s complete press release regarding the Sustainable Business awards, please click here. Thank you to everyone in the Tampa Bay region and beyond for your support! Wish us luck! 


Community Hero: Pinellas Community Compost

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 Pinellas Community Compost!

Pinellas Community Compost is a small company located in Pinellas County, Florida, that offers composting education, consultations for home, gardens, and businesses, and assists with food systems projects, including gardening and food recovery. BioBag Associate Michael Downss spoke to Amanda Streets, founder of Pinellas Community Compost. Their interview is transcribed below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Amanda: Our goal is to provide a number of ways for our community to interact positively with composting so that it can become a normal way for everyone to handle our food scraps and yard waste. We were inspired to teach composting as a way to divert waste from the landfill and decrease greenhouse gases. 

Who do you serve, and how can people get in touch with you if they want to start composting?

Amanda: We help individuals, community gardens, and school groups learn to compost, and assist institutions to implement campus-wide composting initiatives. Our website is pinellascommunitycompost.com, and we can be reached via email amanda@pinellascommunitycompost.com or phone, 727-488-9750. 

How much organic material do you typically take in on a weekly basis?

Amanda: Pinellas Community Compost facilitates an occasional low waste event, but we don’t have a regular stream of organic materials at this time. Our clients and participants do make compost though.

One of our projects, Creating a Regenerative Community Food System, with Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger, diverts about 200 pounds of food scraps from the landfill weekly. One of the institutions that we support composts about 1,000 pounds of food scraps weekly. We are working to promote composting in the community by teaching classes. Since we opened in 2018, we have taught over 80 composting classes

Please give us one fun fact about your business.

Amanda: Our tagline is changing the habits of a generation. I’m a former educator who believes that teaching young people about sustainability and using resources responsibly is very important. We prioritize visiting schools and teaching family-friendly classes.

If you would like to be featured in a future edition of Community Heroes, please email us at marketing@biobagusa.com.

 


Community Hero: Rust Belt Riders

Welcome to BioBag’s new 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 the Rust Belt Riders!

Since 2014, Rust Belt Riders has been working with people and organizations across Northeast Ohio to provide them with a clean and timely alternative to landfills for food waste. Their services include commercial hauling, educational workshops, zero-waste events, and – coming soon – residential services. BioBag Associate Michael Downss spoke to Daniel Brown, co-founder of Rust Belt Riders. Their interview is transcribed below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Daniel: Founded in 2014 by Michael Robinson and Daniel Brown, Rust Belt Riders began after toiling for more than two years on a pretty typical urban garden. The soil was highly compacted, denuded of nutrients, and this made growing herbs and vegetables a difficult proposition. When we weren’t working on the garden, our nights and weekends were spent at a farm-to-table restaurant. There, we saw how even businesses with the best intentions did not have a viable alternative to landfills for food waste. After raising some funds from friends and family members, Rust Belt Riders was born.

Who do you serve, and how can people get in touch with you if they want to start composting?

Daniel: Rust Belt Riders serves businesses, organizations, and individuals all over Northeast Ohio. Clients can get in touch with us online, over social media, and regularly at community events and farmers markets where we are very active. Reach out to us today to start the conversation! 

How much organic material do you typically take in on a weekly basis?

Daniel: We collect around 50,000 pounds of food waste each and every week. 

Please give us one fun fact about your business.

Daniel: For nearly the first year of our existence, all the food scraps we collected were collected by bicycle with a custom-made trailer attached to the back of it.

If you would like to be featured in a future edition of Community Heroes, please email us at marketing@biobagusa.com.


Community Hero: Bootstrap Compost

Welcome to BioBag’s new 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 begin with our friends at Bootstrap Compost!

Team Bootstrap

Bootstrap Compost is a leading compost pickup service operating throughout the Boston and Providence areas. As of today, their team has composted 5,252,959 pounds of organic material and counting! BioBag Associate Michael Downss spoke to Jonathan Nankof, the Director of Operations at Bootstrap Compost. Their interview is transcribed below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Jonathan: Andy Brooks, one of our co-founders, was inspired to start what is now Bootstrap Compost in 2011 after he noticed that compost pick-up services existed in other regions, like in Vermont, but were completely absent in Boston. He wanted to make a difference in his community, and Bootstrap was born. Just under 10 years later, we know we are definitely changing the way the Greater Boston area deals with food waste. 

Who do you serve, and how can people get in touch with you if they want to start composting?

Jonathan: If you’re interested in getting started with Bootstrap, check out our website. There, you’ll be able to learn about everything we offer and you can tailor your pick-up schedule to your needs!

If you click on the “Services” tab at the top of our home page, you can select whatever type of compost pick-up you need: residential, office, restaurant, or even event if you only require a one-time bulk pick-up! From there you can select the frequency (either weekly or bi-weekly) and the quantity of your ideal pick-up. It might be tough to know exactly how much you will need right away, so you can add or remove buckets at any time.

Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions, and we can get you into our delivery system right away. 

How much organic material do you typically take in on a weekly basis?

Jonathan: This January we diverted approximately 40,600 lbs of food waste from landfills each week! This waste is pulled from over 2,200 residential and 280 commercial accounts on a weekly basis. 

Please give us one fun fact about your business.

Jonathan: At Bootstrap we take pride in doing everything by hand! This includes manually dumping all of our collected food waste at our partner farms and hand washing and stenciling our own buckets. Our dedication to doing everything the right way started at the very beginning, when we relied on bikes with trailers to do our first compost pick-ups.

If you would like to be featured in a future edition of Community Heroes, please email us at marketing@biobagusa.com.