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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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


Community Hero: Northfield 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 Northfield Curbside Compost!

Northfield Curbside Compost was founded in 2017 with a mission to reduce waste filling up the Rice County, Minnesota landfills, lower local greenhouse gas emissions, create quality local jobs, and provide excellent service to their composting customers. We spoke to Worker-Owner Bec Ersek to learn a little more about their worker co-op.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Ersek: As a group of young people we wanted to divert waste from the landfill to limit the growth of our local landfill and subsequent methane emissions of our town. We saw the opportunity to fill a community need that had the local energy and interest around while being able to create democratic jobs for ourselves and others!

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

Ersek: We serve all of Northfield and Dundas, Minnesota. Interested folks can go to our website, www.northfieldcompost.com where our email northfieldcomposting@gmail.com and phone number is available for connecting with us.

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

Ersek: 9,000 pounds, right now.

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

Ersek: We are a successful worker cooperative! This means we are a business owned, managed and run by the workers, which gives each of us an equal say in the day-to-day operations and the long-term goals/directions of the co-op.

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

Ersek: We are in the works of opening our own processing facility that will expand our ability to collect, remove the need for dumpsters, and create compost products back to our subscribers and community. We do a lot of community education on our own and along with the city of Northfield including schools, condo communities, senior centers and many other organizations.

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


Community Hero: No Waste 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 No Waste Compost!

Founders Jake Wollman and Cameron Scott started No Waste Compost with the simple idea that nothing should go to waste and the goal of creating an affordable and responsible composting service for all of Vermont. Through No Waste Compost, they developed a residential program to help Vermont residents properly dispose of food scraps and organic materials that would have otherwise found their way to a landfill. Their service became even more important to their community in July 2020, when Vermont’s Act 148 began requiring all Vermont residents to stop sending food scraps to the landfills.

We spoke to General Manager, Jericho King to learn a little more about this organization.

What led you to start your composting operation?

King: We saw a need in our local community. Living in the small city of Burlington, many residents do not have the space to compost their waste at home as well as many other barriers. We set out to help all residents have access to affordable compost pickups and the demand quickly grew to nearby towns.

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

King: We serve the residents and small businesses of Chittenden County, VT. We offer daily 8 am-5 pm customer phone support Monday through Friday and active email support for customer assistance. You can find our contact information and answers to many questions through our website at nowastecompost.com.

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

King: We divert more than 17,000 lbs of waste each week from the landfill and compost it. This year, we estimate that we have diverted 770,000 lbs of organic material away from local and regional landfills.

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

King: By avoiding expensive hydraulic equipment, we are able to provide the lowest cost for compost pickups, but this means our employees do a lot of heavy lifting, and the work gets messy. Our drivers lift more than 3,000 lbs by hand each day in order to provide our services.

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

King: We are currently the only low-profit hauler in our service area. This legal structure (L3C) ensures the community’s needs come first.

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


Community Hero: Mother 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 Mother Compost!

Founded in 2018, Mother Compost‘s goal is to make composting simple and easy for Philadelphia Main Line residents. After a month of testing her composting service with 10 friends, founder Gwenn Nolan officially opened Mother Compost and began building a wider composting community. In just a few short years, Mother Compost has now grown to servicing almost 500 subscribers.

We spoke to Gwenn Nolan to learn a little more about her organization.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Nolan: I was activated by the amount of food waste my family was creating and looked into composting as a solution to redirect our food waste. Unfortunately, as a busy mom of two with a full-time job and a third [child] on the way, I found I couldn’t keep up with the pile & was not having success turning my food scraps into black gold. I began to realize that if this was the only option available, most people would never get composting, and with the amount of waste we create in this country, composting is truly the baseline effort we need to begin tackling our trash problems.

So I set out to create a service that would help make composting simple & less gross so more people would join the composting movement. At Mother Compost, we go above and beyond for our subscribers so they can enjoy the good feels of re-directing organic waste & supporting a local business while also receiving great service. We clean containers after each collection, send pickup reminders, provide collection skip credits & the chance to register for 60 pounds of finished compost in the spring.

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

Nolan: We currently serve the suburbs of Philadelphia known as the Main Line [Bala Cynwyd, Wynnewood, Penn Wynne, Narberth, Ardmore, Havertown, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Villanova, St. David’s, Wayne and Devon] for residential curbside composting. We also serve commercial businesses within this area as well as others outside this area close to our partner farm. People can find us on our website at mothercompost.com, on Instagram & Facebook @mothercompost and on YouTube at MotherCompost.

We also offer classes live or via Zoom on home composting and the benefits of composting as part of our waste management systems. As sustainability initiatives become more prevalent across the board, we are seeing an increased desire to learn more about ways to waste less. Composting is a great place to start and is also a fascinating process that a wide variety of people find interesting.

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

Nolan: As of today, we are averaging 5-6 tons per week so between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds.

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

Nolan: Fun fact about me is that I’m a notorious black thumb and only recently have a plant baby that’s over two years old. Most people assume composting passion equates to gardening prowess, but I am here to prove that is not the case. Unfortunately.

Fun fact about our company is that Mother Compost started as a side hustle, which meant I had to get collections done before my other job started. This led to some crazy antics in our early days and our first hire, Tiffany Kennedy, can confirm there were nights when she showed up for work at 9:30 pm and then got dropped off at her car near the farm around 2:00 am. Our first subscribers thought we were night ninjas since everything was completed before 8:00 in the morning.

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

Nolan: We are a woman-owned & led organization and recently received our National Women’s Business Enterprise Certification from the WBENC. We’re proud to be strong ladies hustling in a sometimes messy business that often includes large trucks. That said, we are very grateful for the incredible men on our team who also show up for the mission daily. We’ve been really lucky with the people who have been called to join us.

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


Community Hero: Pet Poo Skiddoo

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 Pet Poo Skiddoo Pet Waste Removal!

Owned and operated in Asheville, North Carolina, Pet Poo Skiddoo is a pet waste removal company that began in Spring 2015. They are a proud member of APAWS, The Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists and provide both residential and commercial pet waste clean-up services. You can check out a short introductory video to Pet Poo Skiddoo here.

We spoke to owner and founder Stephanie Chow to learn a little more about her organization.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Chow: I was actually a web designer prior to Pet Poo Skiddoo, in a great paying career, but I honestly could not stand working in a cubicle and staring at a computer screen all day. One day, I turned on my webcam to film myself while I worked…and I looked miserable! It was then I knew I needed to quit and start something new. Of course, the issue was my only skills were in computers, and I wanted to get as far away from computers as I could.  

I’ve always loved animals and had pets throughout my life, so I started advertising pet sitting and dog walking services. That led to offering yard scooping services. Eventually, the yard scooping got so popular that I stopped pet sitting and dog walking altogether and just focused on that, but only a few months into my new yard scooping venture, I started seeing how much waste I was bringing to the landfill. Bags and bags of it every week, and it weighed a lot. I couldn’t imagine growing my business just to throw out more and more waste. I started doing some research and discovered that composting could be the answer to my problems, but figuring out how to do it was another story.

Unlike food waste composting that’s been practiced for decades – and there are plenty of resources on the subject – dog waste composting had no resources whatsoever, and, in fact, most websites discouraged even attempting it.  With the small amount of waste that I was collecting, I had a finite amount of attempts that I could perform throughout a year, and it would actually take me two years to finally nail down a process that would give me consistent results – and later, through testing, would prove to be rich in nutrients and safe to use as a fertilizer. 

Fast forward to now, and I have 6 acres of land I purchased for my composting site, I have two full-time employees, and I am composting 4,000 pounds of both dog and cat waste per month.

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

Chow: We service Asheville, NC and surrounding towns (Arden, Black Mountain, Candler, Fairview, Fletcher, Hendersonville, Swannanoa, Weaverville). Sign up at our website.

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

Chow: We take in about 1,000 pounds of pet waste per week.

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

Chow: Probably the best part of the job is spending time with all the dogs when we’re out scooping yards. We’re a familiar face to them, and often they will bring us balls and sticks to throw as we’re walking up and down the lawn.

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

Curtis: Although I started the business with yard scooping, it really grew once I was able to start composting the waste. We now offer bin pickups for those with cats or those who are willing to scoop their own yards and want their pet’s waste composted. We also expanded to commercial properties such as apartments and HOAs where we provide all the pet waste stations with compostable dog waste bags – then we collect, sort, and compost everything that is collected.

We’re still relatively small and everything is still done by hand, mixed with pitchfork with no help from machines. We actually don’t even have electricity at our composting site, so all the light switches in our sheds are powered by solar panels. There are small fans we’ve placed inside the composters that are solar powered, and even the hose we use to spray our collected rain water is hooked up to a water pump powered by solar (my husband, who is a IT engineer, was able to wire that all up).

We also try to be eco in all forms of our business. All our computers are made from used IBC totes (with kits purchased from Green Mountain Technologies), all our bins that we give to our clients for bin pickup service are actually used Tidy Cat Litter containers (we remove the old labeling and place on our own Pet Poo Skiddoo labels), and all the buckets that we package our Critter Dirt (our fertilizer) in are taken from various restaurants around town who used them for storing pickles.

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


Community Hero: WyoFarm 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 WyoFarm Composting!

Based in Thayne, Wyoming, WyoFarm Composting is a collection service that services homes, businesses, and events in the area. We spoke to Curtis Haderlie of WyoFarm Composting to learn a little more about their organization.

What led you to start your composting operation?

Curtis: We are farmers and were approached to see if we would like take food scraps for our hogs. After doing this for a few years, we decided we could expand upon this and start charging to take business’s and individuals’ food scraps for composting.

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

Curtis: We serve both businesses and individuals. People can check out our website at wyocompost.com, send an email to chaderlie@wyocompost.com or give us a call at 307-883-7070.

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

Curtis: 3-5 tons per week.

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

Curtis: Early in our food scrap pick-up experience, we fed a bunch of bananas to our small herd of dairy cows. People started complaining about the taste of the milk. When I tried it, the taste was awful! We haven’t fed bananas or any other food scraps to our dairy cows since.

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

Curtis: The collection of food scraps for composting fits into our sustainable farm model. We are trying to limit chemical fertilizer inputs, and having our own source of high-quality compost gives us a great soil amendment without the drawbacks and expense of chemical fertilizers. It also increases the efficiency of our delivery routes. We deliver food to our customers and bring food scraps back to the farm.

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