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Community Hero: Compost Crew

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 Crew

Compost Crew is a locally-owned, food scrap recycling business with the objective of rescuing unwanted food scraps from the landfill to retain valuable nutrients by converting the food scraps into a rich soil amendment, otherwise known as compost.  Founded in 2011 in Montgomery County, Maryland, they wish to eliminate food waste and revitalize the earth’s soil through clean and convenient solutions available to everyone.

Since its inception, the company has been able to offer their services to thousands of homes, businesses, communities, and governments throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Throughout this time, they have composted tens of millions of pounds of organic material. As a result, Compost Crew was named the Best Composting Service in Washington, D.C. for 2021 by Treehugger.com.

Compost Crew believes Earth’s systems are regenerative by design and envisions a world where all organic matter is recycled, as nature intended, rather than being lost or wasted.

Services are available to residential customers, businesses and organizations, local governments, schools, and events. Anyone interested in any of Compost Crew’s services can contact them at info@compostcrew.com or register for residential service on their website

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


Community Hero: Blue 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 Blue Earth Compost!

Founded in 2013, Blue Earth Compost serves homeowners and businesses in the Greater Hartford region and throughout most of Connecticut, as well as parts of southern Massachusetts. Blue Earth is inspired by the idea that people want to do the right thing by the planet and divert food scraps from landfills and incinerators, but they need better systems and processes in place to accomplish this goal. As such, Blue Earth provides both residential and commercial services, working with households and businesses that lack the space, resources, or infrastructure to compost themselves. 

We spoke to Blue Earth Compost’s Owner & Director of Operations Alex Williams, as well as Sam from Blue Earth’s Daily Operations team, to learn a little more about their organization.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Alex Williams: Blue Earth was started in the fall of 2013 by a woman named Susannah Castle. I returned from college around that time and began interning with her. About six months after she started the business, in the spring of 2014, she had to relocate, and it sort of fell into my lap. My parents and I bought the business that April, and the rest is history. I originally became associated with composting through some internships in college. I caught the composting bug doing some nonprofit work down in Queens and just kind of never looked back. 

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

Alex: Blue Earth is a residential, commercial, and event food scrap collection service. Our service really runs the gamut. We can collect commercially from anyone from a small corner cafe, all the way up to a grocery store or a multi-national corporate headquarters. We’re able to service the smallest to the biggest customers, commercially.

Residentially, we service households and apartment buildings. Again, we really cover the whole spectrum. The best way to get in touch with us, for sure, residentially, is through out website, blueearthcompost.com. We have a convenient sign-up form right there that you can input all of your information, and we’ll get you going. Commercially, give us a call at (860) 266-7346 or shoot us an email at info@blueearthcompost.com. We’re always available to set up a meeting and get you going.

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

Alex: Sam probably knows this better than me. Covid definitely lowered our volumes, especially commercially.
Sam: We compost anywhere between 25 and about 50 tons per week, currently, and we look to expand that.

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

Alex: We know the Governor of Connecticut quite well. Ned Lamont has been to our space a couple times. We unveiled our food scrap collection dump truck, the first of its kind in the state, right outside the state capitol in Hartford. We’ve got a good relationship with the elected officials here in the state.

Is there any additional information about your operation that you’d like to share?

Sam: We’re always so excited to work with other organizations and manufacturers of compost-related products to help us advance our mission and help expand composting. BioBag has been such a big player in our business ever since the beginning. The compostable bags help make our service for residential customers nice and easy and clean, and without those products, it would be very difficult to make more people able to do this. 

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


Community Hero: Garbage to Garden

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 info@garbagetogarden.org 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 volunteer@garbagetogarden.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 marketing@biobagusa.com.


Community Hero: Earth Diaper

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 Earth Diaper!

Earth Diaper’s mission is to create a cleaner, greener world for all by composting diapers that would otherwise overcrowd landfills. Based in Santa Cruz, California, they also support parents who struggle to afford diapers by partnering with agencies that work directly with the families to provide free or subsidized diapers and composting services. Earth Diaper also serves group homes, such as homeless shelters and safe homes for victims of domestic violence. 

Co-Founder Lily Broberg Strong, RN, has worked as a public health home visiting nurse in the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz, serving vulnerable populations for the last decade. She has seen first-hand the need for diapers and the stress families experience as a result of this unmet need. We spoke to Lily to learn a little more about her organization.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Strong: Diapers are 3% of our landfill waste and growing. They take 500 years to break down and are filled with chemicals. Mothers tell me that it hurts their hearts to create so much garbage (about 7,000 diapers per child, on average). I got started working with low-income mothers & babies as a public health nurse home visitor and noticed how hard it was for these families to afford diapers. Often these moms have to make choices between essentials like food & rent or diapers. This creates both stress for parents and sometimes skin breakdown for babies (if they are not changed enough). My love of the earth and babies combined gave birth to the idea to bring free compostable diapers to shelter families. We piloted the program in 2018 and just kept going because we got so much good feedback and the families love it.

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

Strong: We serve a homeless shelter for women with young children in Santa Cruz, California. We hope to grow to other shelters where composting is available. We use donations to fund compostable diapers and wipes purchases for the shelter. We contract with another company (EarthBaby) to drop off and pick up diapers and then diapers are composted at Z-best in Gilroy, which is a huge composting operation with a permit for human waste.

If anyone is interested in donating to purchase diapers for a low income family (and divert them from a landfill!) visit our website at earthdiaper.org and click on the donate button. All donations are tax deductible. If you are interested in buying compostable diapers for your own use, please also visit our website and check out our affiliate partner organizations.

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

Strong: We compost about 150 diapers a week currently. Our diaper use depends on how many babies are at the shelter and how old they are. 

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

Strong: We love poop jokes! Also, we had a great article in the Santa Cruz Goodtimes. To read it, click here

 

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


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.