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Community Hero: Compost Queens

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 Compost Queens!

The Compost Queens mission is to help the San Antonio community use the abundant resource of food waste to replenish the soil and create more sustainable food and economic cycles by creating a difference in community perceptions and habits involving food, waste, and sustainability. We spoke to Alma Rominger, the Director of Marketing and Communications for Compost Queens, to learn a little more about their organization.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Rominger: We had long known the environmental and garden benefits of composting and did our own composting in our backyard. Learning about the benefits of Bokashi Composting is what inspired us to create Compost Queens. We thought that the ease of use would really help encourage our community to start composting and we wanted to share the magic!  We wanted to make it as easy as possible so that more people were able to divert their food scraps and we could lower our community-produced emissions, all while helping to grow food as well!

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

Rominger: We service residents and businesses in the San Antonio area with our composting services and will be selling our Bokashi flakes nationwide in our online store by March 2021.

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

Rominger: We collect an average of 9,000 pounds per week. 

Please give us one fun fact about you or your business.

Rominger: Our founders are a mother-daughter duo!

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


Community Hero: Curbside Composting Morganton

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 Composting Morganton!

Curbside Composting Morganton’s mission is to educate on the importance of food waste diversion and soil health and to facilitate the composting process for residential and commercial customers in Morganton, North Carolina. CEO James Davidson provided us with some more information about Curbside Composting Morganton, which you can read below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Davidson: My family and I had been avid composters for years but eventually grew tired of the at-home tumbler bins and thought there has to be an easier way. Modeling ourselves after our local recycling service Simply Green, we began to build Curbside Composting Morganton.

I am a lung and critical care physician by trade. My father and I started Curbside Composting Morganton in February of 2018 to help educate our community on the benefits of composting and to encourage sustainability. Morganton is a beautiful city of about 16,000 people in western North Carolina. Dubbed “Nature’s Playground,” Morganton is known for outdoor activities and environmentally conscious residents and businesses. Curbside Composting Morganton has been a great addition to the community, serving both residents and businesses alike.

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

Davidson: We started our business with a focus on residential customers and built a very loyal following. In March of 2020, we launched our commercial composting service and had a great deal of success working with [businesses] Mountain Burrito and C2Life meals, but then the pandemic forced us to pause our commercial composting roll out. We refocused on residential growth and will be refocusing our efforts on the commercial side this spring. 

We are very active on social media including Facebook and Instagram and have a fantastic website with information about our services and our local sustainability partnership program. People can contact us through the website and by email at james.davidson@curbsidecompostingmorganton.com.  

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

Davidson: We divert approximately 1.3 tons of food waste out of our local landfills each month, which is over 15 tons per year. From our compost, we make a soil additive called compost tea. We have a number of avid gardeners and “green thumbs” who receive compost tea each week and have used it to grow amazing house plants and gardens.

Please give us one fun fact about you or your business.

Davidson: My wife and I are lovers of the outdoors and avid hikers and mountain bikers. We are also foster parents and recently adopted our youngest daughter.

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


Community Hero: Moonshot 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 Moonshot Compost!

Moonshot Compost’s mission is to help people learn to see excess food not as trash, but as a valuable resource to a community, one with nutrients to be returned to the soil. They hope to help dedicate this resource to the highest and best use, whether that is backyard composting, composting at a community or urban garden, or through a larger facility. Founders Chris Wood and Joe Villa provided us with some more information about Moonshot Compost, which you can read below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Moonshot Compost: We started Moonshot Compost to try to answer a question: “Why hasn’t food waste recycling happened in Houston?” Chris left his job in corporate America, and Joe left his job in transportation logistics about the same time, and [they] started collaborating on this central question.

We had initially assumed the lack of food waste recycling was due to insufficient composting capacity. We attended a United States Composting Council week-long training on operating a composting facility and began learning everything we could about composting in Houston. What became clear was Houston has lots of good composting, but there was very little transportation. We heard story after story about businesses and institutions over the prior three years who had made inquiries with composters for food diversion programs, but invariably, the programs failed for lack of logistics. And then we learned more about the tipping fees in Houston, and how much pressure the low tipping fees put on the entire value chain for selling compost. At that point, we decided we were going to figure it out.

We started planning in earnest in January 2020, we launched our residential pilot program in June 2020, and began collecting monthly service fees in July 2020. We don’t say we’ve figured anything out yet. We have received great advice from kind and wise people with similar businesses across the country. If this works, it will be in large part because so many people have shared so much of their time and wisdom with us.

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

Moonshot Compost: We tell anyone and everyone we meet that we collect and consolidate food waste for composting from residences, restaurants, and other businesses in Houston. People can find us on the web at www.startcomposting.com, by phone at 713-955-0011, and by email at info@moonshotcompost.com.

Our residential program is primarily curbside pick-up, though we have an amazing drop-off location at an urban farm in central Houston. Our commercial program tends to be very individualized for each client. We make a commitment to our industrial composting partners to deliver a contaminant-free stream of food waste. That means that when we are working with restaurants, schools, apartments, and other businesses to design a plan, we take each of their specific circumstances into account to make diverting easy and keeping contaminants out just as easy. Because food diversion programs are still a new concept for many businesses in Houston, we find this approach quickly removes any stigma and gets people excited about the potential. We also return compost to our subscribers twice per year, which is a great opportunity to advocate the benefits of “closing the loop.” Our subscribers were really energized by our compost delivery in early October.

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

Moonshot Compost: We are young as a company, and having started during the pandemic, are happy to report that we have been able to operate safely for our customers, employees, and all our families. In these times, that alone feels like a huge win. Our monthly average collection volumes have increased approximately 160% per month since June 2020, when we collected for a handful of families for free. In October 2020, we collected over 2 tons.

Please give us one fun fact about your business.

Moonshot Compost: We are a family affair. Chris and Joe are brothers-in-law, married to sisters. And their wives’ other sister is our “ambassador of quan,” making sure that our social media campaigns reflect Moonshot’s personality.

We noticed that we spent quite a bit of time explaining to people what we do, what food waste diversion programs are, and what compost is good for. To help people conceptualize all of this faster, we worked with our marketing firm to produce a short cartoon. It was finished recently, and we are very proud of it. The cartoon can be viewed above or on YouTube.

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


Community Hero: Suncoast 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 Suncoast Compost!

Suncoast Compost’s mission is to inspire, educate, and promote sustainable practices throughout the Tampa Bay community. They provide composting services for homes, businesses, and events, as well as offer consulting for events and businesses to help them find ways to minimize their waste and reduce their impact on the environment. We spoke to Co-Founder Kali Rabaut about Suncoast Compost. Her interview is transcribed below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Kali: [My husband Paul & I] started Suncoast Compost shortly after our first child was born. I was teaching and wanted something flexible and part time so I could spend time with my new baby. At the same time, I wanted to do something meaningful. My husband is a biologist, and we were hosting tours of our garden back then. People were so interested in the compost situation, we thought people might enjoy it as a service. We were so pleased to connect with other community composters who were already doing it in other parts of the country.

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

Kali: We serve about 200 homes and businesses in Tampa and St Petersburg, FL. We offer curbside, drop-off and zero waste event services. Folks can sign up at our website www.suncoastcompost.com.

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

Kali: ~2,000 pounds/week

Please give us one fun fact about your business.

Kali: We’re located in the same area as Biobag – Tampa Bay area! We’re really grateful to the support we’ve received from BioBag. Mark [President of BioBag] and Jennifer [VP of Marketing] have really made themselves so available to connect and support us from the very beginning. The genuine care and love BioBag has to protect our planet is so special.

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


Community Hero: Mr. Fox Composting

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 Mr. Fox Composting!

 

Mr. Fox Composting started over ten years ago with a goal of providing composting service along the New Hampshire and Maine seacoast. Since then, they have steadily grown as a company, expanding commercial and residential programs, hiring more drivers, adding new trucks to their service, and implementing new technologies to increase efficiency. They also provide composting services to events such as weddings, company fundraisers, school field days, and have a shop full of eco-friendly products. We spoke to Commercial Operations Manager Jenny Humphries about Mr. Fox Composting. Her interview is transcribed below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Jenny: I have always liked composting. I enjoy the simplicity of it especially in these complicated times. Compost has so many uses, and watching our soil be used to grow great products is exciting. Additionally, seeing how we have a direct impact on our community shows how much we can make a difference is huge!

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

Jenny: We currently service the New Hampshire Seacoast and Southern Maine. People can learn more about Mr. Fox’s residential services and commercial services by visiting our website at mrfoxcomposting.com.

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

Jenny: We probably take in multiple tractor-trailer loads worth each week. Our fleet [of trucks] hauls and processes it all too!

Please give us one fun fact about your business.

Jenny: I’ve been working with compost for over 20 years and Mr. Fox Composting has been in business for over 10 years!

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


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.