Skip to Content

Tag Archives: Community Hero

Community Hero: Dirt Wain

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 Dirt Wain!

Brett Bloom started Dirt Wain in 2019, bringing composting to communities around Fort Wayne, Indiana. Serving households, neighborhood organizations, and businesses of various sizes, Dirt Wain is dedicated to community-scale composting and contributing to the unique place that is Fort Wayne. We spoke to Brett to find out more about his business.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Bloom: There is a lot of redevelopment and economic investment in Fort Wayne. The city has turned itself around from Rust Belt to whatever it is becoming. Indiana has an abysmal record of low wages and high pollution, and we hope to impact this by insisting on a cleaner place to live as our prospects are elevated. Composting is one big component of this.

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

Bloom: We compost food scraps, yard waste, and pet waste. Our subscribers are households, apartment complexes, churches, schools, commercial kitchens, large factories, coffee shops, grocery stores and more. [More information about the various subscription plans can be found here.]

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

Bloom: 5-6 tons. [A chart of total materials composted per month can be viewed here.]

 

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

Bloom: Fort Wayne is where we operate from. Dirt Wain is the business name. It sounds like Fort Wayne, except a wain is an old English term for an open farm wagon. It has not been in regular use since the late 17th century.

*

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


Community Hero: Green Heron 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 Green Heron Compost!

Green Heron Compost Service is a curbside compost service in Knoxville, Tennessee that launched in 2019. They are committed to protecting and restoring the environment by diverting organic food and plant waste away from landfills and instead, delivering compost to local farms to replenish their soils. We spoke to owner Kat McDearis about her organization, which you can learn more about in the interview below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

McDearis: I started Green Heron Compost because I was living in a small apartment in downtown Knoxville and tried to start composting. After some research, I realized that there wasn’t any sort of composting option in Knoxville at that time. Since my wife is a soil scientist, I decided I would use her expertise to try and start a small composting operation. After almost a year of prep and testing, I launched Green Heron Compost Services using my small sedan until I got enough customers to afford a pickup truck. Luckily, business took off from there!

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

McDearis: We serve Knox County residents and businesses by providing curbside food waste collection services. From there, the waste is processed at our farm facility where it becomes high-quality compost. If someone would like to start composting with us, they can visit our website www.greenheroncompost.com and sign up by registering their address.

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

McDearis: We are currently diverting about 1-2 tons of organic waste per week, and that number continues to grow each month.

 

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

McDearis: Green Heron Compost got its name because the owner is an avid birdwatcher especially with Grandma Elma. The company name is a tribute to one of their favorite wild waterfowl.

*

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


Community Hero: Enviro Pet Waste Network

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 Enviro Pet Waste Network!

The Enviro Pet Waste Network (EPWN) connects people and communities that are successfully diverting pet waste from landfills with those who want to learn how to develop similar programs in their own cities and towns. One program within the Network, EnviroWagg, is highlighted in the video above and composts dog waste from dog daycares, hiking trails, and dog parks in the Denver Metro area. We spoke to EnviroWagg’s manager Rose Seemann about EPWN, which you can learn more about in the interview below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Seemann: Dogs and cats in the United States produce around 180 million tons of waste per year. That amounts to 159 football fields 10 feet deep! Each year! (See infographic). That’s 12% of the national residential waste stream that could be returned to the soil or transformed to energy, but it’s overlooked by policy-makers. EPWN brings together people sustainably managing pet waste with others heading in that direction.

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

Seemann: EPWN serves people worldwide with resources that can help them keep pet poop in the loop. To learn more about do-it-yourself pet waste composting and advocacy for community composting, visit https://epwn.org.

What are the environmental benefits of pet waste composting?

Seemann: Around half of pet waste goes to landfills with comingled plastic. There it emits methane – a potent greenhouse gas – while slowly decomposing. In the US, landfills account for more than 17% of all methane emissions. Abandoned dog waste can also do serious damage to waterways, hiking trails, beaches and parks. Diverting pet waste is one piece of a huge eco puzzle that needs to be addressed if we want to achieve zero waste. 

 

Feel free to add any additional information about your operation as you see fit.

Seemann: EPWN kicked off in 2021 and we already have starter groups in the US and Australia.

Anything special going on that you would like for us to share?

Seemann: For more information on EPWN, please 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: Go Green OC

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 Go Green OC!

Go Green OC, Inc is a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the goals of zero waste by education, program implementation, and cross-community collaboration. Focused on the eastern shore of Maryland, they strive to make Ocean City become the first zero-waste resort town in the United States. We spoke to founder Josh Chamberlain about his organization, which you can learn more about in the interview below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Chamberlain: Go Green OC was started to find alternative ways to waste incineration by creating a sustainable circular economy.

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

Chamberlain: We serve the Worcester County, Maryland area, specifically Ocean City, Maryland.  People can reach out to us via Instagram or our website. We reach 30k people monthly on Instagram and 99% of our volunteers come from social media.

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

Chamberlain: At the peak of our season, we are ingesting around 10,000 pounds of food waste. The program runs from April to November (seasonal town).

2018 – 1900 pounds

2019 – did fundraising

2020 – 12,190 pounds

2021 – 80,000+ pounds

2022 – on track for around 200,000 pounds

We could see a total accumulation of around 300k pounds.

 

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

Chamberlain: This compost program is run by a restaurant owner and film producer with hardly any waste experience. This program is driven by 99% volunteers.

Feel free to add any additional information about your operation as you see fit.

Chamberlain: We have 12 locations participating with us today, with over 30 on a waitlist.  We are up from 1 volunteer to nearly 8.  We started the first pizza box collection receptacle for composting in Ocean City.  We also converted the largest motorcycle rally on the east coast to zero waste (OC Bikefest) by introducing recycling – and this year…COMPOSTING!

Anything special going on that you would like for us to share?

Chamberlain: We are doing a HUGE zero waste event in Ocean City, MD. It’s called Bikefest. Our volunteers assist with recycling and composting efforts. It’s the largest Motorcycle Rally on the east coast.  This year, we are introducing composting to the event. For more information about the event, 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: Greener Bay 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 Greener Bay Compost!

Founded one year ago, in July 2021, Greener Bay Compost is the only curbside compost pickup service in the Green Bay, Wisconsin metropolitan area. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported in 2021 that approximately half of what ends up in landfills could have been compostable, so Greener Bay Compost aims to divert that waste from the landfills and upcycle it into something infinitely more useful. We spoke to founder Cory Groshek about his organization, which you can learn more about in the interview below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Groshek: Several years ago, I started by setting up a five-bin (pen) composting system in the backyard of my quarter-acre property in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with my wife, because we hate wasting food, or seeing it go to waste, and we also wanted to save money on raised bed soil at our local home improvement stores by making our own compost.

Before long, we were successfully composting not only our own food waste and household organics, but a lot of plain cardboard, clean wood ashes, coffee grounds, and egg shells we were picking up from a few local businesses as well. Soon thereafter, I came across the Instagram account of another composter named Sarah in New York State. She was running a company called Clearwater Creek Compost, where she was doing five gallon bucket swaps for customers who wanted her to do their composting for them as a service, and I thought to myself, “People would actually pay for this?” Needless to say, I was intrigued.

Long story short, Sarah inspired me to turn my backyard composting operation into my own Curbside Compost Pickup Service, which I named Greener Bay Compost.

Before I launched my business, though, I put out some “feelers” to my neighbors on Nextdoor in early July 2021, to get a sense for whether this kind of service would be something my local community would be interested in. And lo and behold, it was! I received over 30 very positive responses. Accordingly, I went ahead and purchased everything I needed to get started (buckets, lids, BioBags, stickers, etc.) and set up GBCompost.com.

Exactly one month after I’d put out the aforementioned “feelers,” we were dropping off buckets to our first sixteen subscribers, and a week later, swapping out full buckets in exchange for clean, new ones. Everything happened so fast, and we are now up to 127 subscribers, which is almost 800% growth in just over nine months!

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

Groshek: We currently serve residential customers in all of Green Bay, plus the surrounding communities of Allouez, Ashwaubenon, Bellevue, De Pere, Hobart, Howard, Ledgeview, and Suamico. So we serve, essentially, everywhere within 15 miles of Lambeau Field (where the Green Bay Packers play). For more information on us and our services, everyone can visit GBCompost.com, or contact us at www.GBCompost.com/Contact.

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

Groshek: As of late, we’ve been bringing in between 600 and 900 pounds of would-be organic waste from our subscribers each week, or roughly about one to one-and-a-half tons each month. This number, of course, is growing each month, as we take on more and more subscribers.

 

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

Groshek: We run an Annual Pumpkin Drive each year, after Halloween and through Thanksgiving, through which we collect large volumes of pumpkins, gourds, straw bales, corn stalks, etc. that would probably end up in the trash if it weren’t for us 🎃

Feel free to add any additional information about your operation as you see fit.

Groshek: We currently offer Every-Other-Week Compost Pickup Service (GBCompost.com/Services) to residential subscribers in the Green Bay metropolitan area only, but are considering expanding into serving select businesses, as well as into the Appleton/Fox Valley area of Wisconsin, which is only about 30-45 minutes from our home base. Also, we have been featured in our local news several times already (three times on television, once in a local lifestyle magazine, and, most recently, in Green Bay’s official newspaper, the Press Times), as everyone can see at www.GBCompost.com/Category/News.

Anything special going on that you would like for us to share?

Groshek: We just acquired a nearly-seven-acre property that we call The Farm in the Town of Lessor (Shawano County, Wisconsin), to help us expand and grow our business, and we are very excited about all the possibilities this presents for us. Additionally, we were recently name-dropped (in April 2022) before the Green Bay Common Council, by the Green Bay Sustainability Commission, as a potential partner for the City of Green Bay, as it works toward establishing a City-wide Food Waste Prevention Pilot Program by the year 2023. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to potentially expand our services into deeper into Green Bay with the City’s help!

*

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


Community Hero: The Urban Canopy

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 Urban Canopy!

Founded in 2011, The Urban Canopy works to create a more sustainable, nutritious, and equitable food system in Chicago, from production to distribution to waste. The four pillars of their mission are Nutrition (making healthy produce accessible and available year round), Environment (reducing food waste, food miles, and encouraging sustainable farming practices), Economy (creating local, self-sustaining, meaningful jobs), and Community (empowering our communities to build towards a healthier food system). We spoke to Bonnie Shultz at Urban Canopy about the organization, which you can learn more about in the interview below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Shultz: What is now our Compost Club started as one part of our plan for a circular and cyclical company and economy when we started our rooftop farm. Our aim from the beginning was addressing current systems as a whole. No one piece of the overall food system is broken – they are all dysfunctional in their own ways – and similarly no one part of the solution can function independently of the others.

We started small by composting the excess plant material from the farm, and shortly after collecting pulp from a juice bar we sold wheatgrass to. A handful of our founder’s friends and other businesses signed on and the first year we launched Compost Club we had just over a dozen members. Our membership now clocks in at just over 3500 homes and businesses.  

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

Shultz: We serve much of the Chicagoland area! People can get in touch by visiting our website.

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

Shultz: We averaged 50,943 lbs a week in 2021.

 

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

Shultz: Our first compost collection buckets were landfill bound Jimmy John’s pickle buckets! One of our founders would drive around to Jimmy John’s locations and ask if they had any empties because he saw all the ways our food systems and the foodservice industry are wasteful. Though inorganic waste diversion isn’t our field of expertise, the Urban Canopy’s values center around these sorts of larger picture whole-system reform ideals. 

Feel free to add any additional information about your operation as you see fit.

Shultz: We do much more than composting! We have 2 farm operations (indoor and outdoor setups), a CSA program, a processing kitchen that turns would-be wasted produce into shelf-stable consumables, and a distribution branch that aims to save bulk quick-sale produce from the landfill.

*

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


Community Hero: KC Can 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 KC Can Compost!

KC Can Compost is a nonprofit enterprise working to transform Kansas City’s social and environmental landscapes. Their mission is to collect organic waste and divert it from the landfill for composting and to educate and train men and women struggling to overcome barriers to employment for work in green industry jobs. We spoke to Executive Director Kristan Chamberlain about KC Can Compost, which you can learn more about in the interview below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Chamberlain: Our original vision for KC Can grew out of a desire to create meaningful, living-wage jobs for people struggling with barriers to employment and to provide the Kansas City community with a valuable and needed service. We saw an opportunity in the middle market and created a clean and easy composting infrastructure that could be implemented across industries. Our system is designed to make it easy for local businesses, schools, hospitals, restaurants, shopping centers, retirement facilities, museums and more to manage their organic waste responsibly and easily.  We also operate centralized neighborhood drop off stations that enable all residents to collect their food waste at home and easily divert from landfill. 

a woman hauling an orange trash can branded with kc can compost logos

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

Chamberlain: We service the greater Kansas City area and collect waste from small to large scale businesses and residents alike. Businesses can register on our website for a free waste audit. The waste audit helps us determine the quantity and type of waste that needs to be collected and helps us to create a collection system that works best for that organization and their space. Residents can register online and drop their waste off at one of our convenient drop-off locations as frequently as they need to.

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

Chamberlain: KC Can’s monthly diversion totals are growing rapidly, but we typically divert 5,000+ pounds a week.

kansas city mascot stands with a kc can compost trash can and collection truck 

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

Chamberlain: KC Can is not just an environmental enterprise, but it is also a social venture. We understand social justice and climate justice as one issue and exist to impact and improve both the social and environmental landscapes of Kansas City.  

Feel free to add any additional information about your operation as you see fit.

Chamberlain: KC Can launched in May of 2019 and has grown rapidly throughout the region, despite COVID’s challenging impacts. Our bright orange KC cans are now seen across state lines (KS and MO) in cafes, restaurants, schools, museums, shopping centers, stadiums, and apartment and condo complexes. The Kansas City community is responding to the call for responsible organics management, and we are proud to be part of the community’s solution for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and creating meaningful jobs for those in need. 

an orange kc can compost trash can sits in front of a building painted with a rainbow

*

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


Community Hero: Music Mountain 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 Music Mountain Compost!

Music Mountain Compost was founded in June 2020 in response to the provision in Vermont’s Act 148 that requires residents to stop sending food scraps to the landfills. Owner/operator Zachary Cavacas is a Vermont native with a background in homesteading. The organic waste they pick up is brought back to their own facility to make sure the waste is dealt with properly and turned into high-quality compost.  We spoke to Zach about his organization, which you can learn more about in the interview below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Cavacas: I was out of work after being let go when Covid hit, and I saw Vermont had a compost law going into effect, and I decided to give it a try. I used all the money I had and bought a trailer and a bunch of buckets and bins.

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

Cavacas: I serve 70 towns in all and have over 400 customers. I do residential and commercial services. People can visit musicmountaincompost.com, call me at 802-342-3834, or email me at cavacasz@gmail.com.

A list of communities serviced can be viewed here.

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

Cavacas: I have composted over 70 tons of food waste. 

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

Cavacas: I pitched a perfect game in baseball when I was 12. 

Feel free to add any additional information about your operation as you see fit.

Cavacas: I recently was featured on VPR Brave Little State podcast. You can also see a video interview I did by clicking here.

*

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


Community Hero: New Earth Farm

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 New Earth Farm!

New Earth Farm is a composting service in the St. Louis Metro Area that offers residential, workplace, event, commercial, and drop-off composting services. Owner John Cline and his family are striving to make their contribution to their St. Louis home by turning food waste into nutrient-rich soil to help care for the environment and grow more food. We spoke to John about his organization, which you can learn more about in the interview below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Cline: After working as a chaplain in the city of St. Louis for 7 years, I was pretty burnt out on all the suffering. We were inspired by friends doing community composting and urban farming. We wanted to work together as a family with our own business.

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

Cline: We serve the general St. Louis metro area. Folks interested in our services can learn more about us at www.compoststl.com.

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

Cline: We take in about 1,500 lbs a week. 

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

Cline: We really enjoy seeing folks sign up who are a bit skeptical and then watching them get super excited about seeing food waste as a resource. 

Feel free to add any additional information about your operation as you see fit.

Cline: We really appreciate both the Institute for Local Self Reliance Composters Group and the USCC and how they have been great resources and even better relationships.

*

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


Community Hero: Happy Trash Can

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 Happy Trash Can Curbside Composting!

Happy Trash Can was founded by Ryan Green & Adrienne Huckabone in 2016 with a mission to support local soil health and close the local food system in Adrienne’s hometown of Bozeman, Montana. Ryan is the “composter in chief” of Happy Trash Can and brings experience in everything from sustainable agriculture and composting in rural Maine to high-density composting in New York City to help run the show, while Adrienne serves as the creative director, operations manager, and everything in between. You can learn more about them and their organization below.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Happy Trash Can: In 2013, Ryan was working with the NYC Compost Project hosted by the Lower East Side Ecology Center doing community composting. The work of the NYCCP inspired us to continue with composting and see if it would be feasible to try it in Adrienne’s hometown, Bozeman MT, where there was no comprehensive food waste composting happening. We launched Happy Trash Can in 2016 and have been growing ever since.

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

Happy Trash Can: We offer a curbside pickup service or a pay-what-you-can, drop-off service to residents in Bozeman, Belgrade, and Livingston, Montana. All our subscribers can get finished compost back! Anyone can sign up or get in touch through our website at www.happytrashcan.net

In addition to the residential programs, we collect from commercial accounts in these communities. We also sell our finished compost back to local farmers and gardeners.

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

Happy Trash Can: We are estimating we take in about 20,000 pounds each week, & over 1 million pounds every year.

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

Happy Trash Can: Not only are we business partners, we are life partners, too! Married in 2017.

Feel free to add any additional information about your operation as you see fit.

Happy Trash Can: Since 2018, we have partnered with Sustainable Generations. We utilize their SG Mobile GORE Cover ASP systems that allow us to effectively and efficiently process the material we collect. We are currently working with Bozeman Solid Waste to process yard waste they collect and help expand their composting program.

*

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