Bootstrap Compost, a composing company serving greater Boston and Rhode Island, meets an important community need by diverting natural food waste from landfills. Bootstrap picks up their customers’ food scraps to be turned into rich compost. Bootstrap returns compost to their subscribers or donates it to community gardens, farms, and schools. In the last 8 years, Bootstrap has compost over 4 million pounds of natural food waste – now that’s a food waste statistic to be proud of!
We met with Emma, Bootstrap’s Director of Operations, and Miranda, Education Coordinator and Warehouse Worker, to learn more about composting.
What exactly is composting?
Composting is taking all of your food scraps and biodegradable waste and putting it into a system that breaks it down the way nature intended. It’s a controlled process, so it’s important to monitor the temperature, oxygen, and moisture content to be sure that you’re creating the best scenario—the most optimal conditions—for the scraps and waste to break down. Eventually, you’ll have a really rich soil additive.
Why should you compost?
Forty percent of the food in this country is wasted, so fundamentally the food system is broken. Composting is one way we can help to mend it. When you compost, you become more aware of what you’re eating and wasting, whether it’s food scraps like the ends of your carrots or the melon that goes bad in your fridge.
Ultimately, we want people who can’t afford food to have access to food before it’s wasted, and to collect all the food scraps for compost. Then we’ll return all the nutrients and energy that it took to produce that food back to the land. When the food system is at its healthiest, it’s a virtuous cycle.
What are the benefits of composting?
As you may know, carbon contributes to climate change by trapping heat in the atmosphere. So anything we can do to lessen the amount of carbon in the air is a good thing. Putting compost in your soil helps the soil sequester carbon from the atmosphere and gives plants a chance to take in more carbon and release it as oxygen, which all animals need to live.
Putting compost on your land inoculates your soil with all the beneficial microbes, fungi, and bacteria your plants need to grow big and healthy.
And, finally, composting helps soil store more water, which means you don’t need to water your plants, grass, and gardens as often.
What’s the biggest misconception about composting?
It’s smelly! I think people get thrown off when you take the smelly thing (read: overripe vegetables) and put it in a smelly place (read: a compost pile). But really the key to keeping compost from being smelly is managing it. If you’re managing the conditions from the get-go, then you’re going to be able to control the smell.
How can you begin to compost at home?
There are many at-home composting systems. There are composting tumblers, or if you want to really get your hands dirty, start a pile and turn it with a pitchfork. That’s my favorite method personally. Or you could have a worm bin in your basement (editor’s note: super cool but not for the squeamish!)
Thanks, Emma and Miranda! For more information on working with Bootstrap Composting at your home or business, check out their website: https://bootstrapcompost.com. And, for more information on composting, Emma and Miranda recommend: The Institute for Local Self-Reliance https://ilsr.org/yimby-compost/