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Trash Talk: Breaking Down Our Compost Journey

4 minutes

As a company we are no stranger to sustainability. We measure how much we recycle, the amount of energy we use in our office, and how close we come to achieving our goals to be better than the previous year. But as the world changes, our sustainability efforts can change too. Here at Rule29, we started asking a critical question: How could we do more as a company?

We began this journey in the space we gather most, the kitchen. Our office is a busy hub of activity, and it’s no wonder that between daily meals, prepping for presentations, and the plethora of Starbucks cups we consume on a daily basis, by the end of the week our trash is completely full. The bags get hauled to the to the cans, wheeled to the curb, and taken away, never to be seen again. The next week the whole cycle repeats. We rarely think about where those trash bags go or how much is piling up over time. Looking at our trash one day, we wondered: How could we avoid having so much trash end up in a landfill? Was there was something we could do about that?

Introducing: Composting!

Looking at our trash, we noticed about half of it was food waste. That’s pretty typical for the state of trash in the United States as a whole. A press release from the US Department of Agriculture in April of 2019 stated, “In the U.S., more than one-third of all available food goes uneaten through loss or waste. Food is the single largest type of waste in our daily trash.” That got us thinking: if we could turn this food waste into compost, we could reduce the amount of trash we produce by at least a third, if not more!

Composting 101

One of the best parts of the internet is that you can learn how to do just about anything! Here’s what we learned about composting:

Compost needs four elements to work: carbon, nitrogen, air, and water. Air and water are pretty self- explanatory, but how do you get carbon and nitrogen?  Carbon, the “browns,” can take the form of fallen leaves, cardboard, dried plant waste, and shredded paper. Nitrogen, the “greens,” are grass clippings, tea bags, vegetable and fruit scraps, eggshells, and coffee grounds. We took a look in our trash bag for these “ingredients,” and discovered that all the right components were there! This was looking like something that could be really effective! Now that we knew we would have enough material, we drove into where to keep our compost.

Starting our compost journey

At our beautiful Geneva office, we are lucky enough to have plenty of yard space. This makes it the perfect place to have an outdoor composting bin. After a bit of research, we found out that our county offers compost bins at a discounted cost. The bin we purchased is built to last 20 years and can be recycled when we are finished with it. Win-win!

A recipe for success

We began collecting all of our food waste into a compost crock, and once a week we would add our “greens” to the pile. We made sure we turned our pile and added a good amount of “browns” to keep our compost healthy and happy! We even added worms to experiment with vermicomposting!

Two years later

We started this process two years ago, and since then we’ve loved composting! We’ve learned a lot about why it is beneficial to our environment:

  1. Composting reduces waste sent to landfills (which in turn reduces incineration, and therefore emissions); creates a product that breaks-up clay soils and adds moisture content; and, gives us a non-chemical fertilizer that allows us to grow abundant vegetable and flower gardens.
  2. Everything you compost at home becomes a thriving habitat and nutritious fodder for an entire population of bacteria, bugs, worms, fungi, and creepy crawlies, and what they leave behind becomes nourishing fodder for your plants.
  3. Composting is nature’s way of recycling, found in ancient woodlands and other natural soils across the world. It uses a natural process that still occurs worldwide to produce rich, degraded organic matter, also known as humus.

Composting has had a noticeable effect on our sustainability efforts. It’s also brought us closer as a team. We talk about what is compostable when we eat together and take turns adding to the compost. The ripple effects of composting have spread beyond the office to some of our teammates lives at home. It’s amazing, but true: we all can make a difference!

“More than one-third of all available food goes uneaten through loss or waste”

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