Monthly Archives: February 2016

Client Q&A: Sarah Robinson

By Igor Kharitonenkov
Co-Founder at Bootstrap Compost, Inc.

Could Sarah Robinson be our #1 fan? The Boston-based green entrepreneur is certainly up for consideration. Shortly after Bootstrap expanded beyond Jamaica Plain and into the high-rises of downtown Boston, Sarah signed up and became a promising rookie in our inaugural class of 2011. The next year, she rose to prominence as a Bootstrap all-pro when she enrolled her company WeSpire, one of our first office accounts. Throughout the years, Sarah has sent many leads our way. And being an early ambassador of Bootstrap and having the perspective of a residential as well as commercial client, she had a lot to share with us about her experience. So here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson!

Sarah Robinson

What goes around comes around. Sarah using our compost – made in part from her food scraps – in her garden.

How long have you been a client of Bootstrap Compost? I’ve been a residential client since November 2011 and enrolled my business in 2012.

How did you hear about us?  I co-founded Practically Green (now WeSpire) and I’ve always enjoyed keeping an eye on upcoming green companies and entrepreneurs who were building companies to conserve resources.

Why did you sign up for Bootstrap? I’ve been composting for years in the country. I am continually flabbergasted by food waste, especially here in the city, and saw Bootstrap as an awesome, local urban solution to this problem. I also enjoy that as part of their service, I receive a pot of black gold for gardening at home and at my summer house in Rhode Island.

In what other ways do you recycle, conserve and stay environmentally sound? Oh, in every single way you can imagine. Outside of my personal  life, I built a business on conserving (WeSpire), launched our One Small Act initiative with large corporations and actively promote composting within other companies.

Do you have children? If so, are they apart of the composting process? Sure! I have three adult children and you know I make sure they know to compost. Mom’s orders! All jokes aside, I’m happy to say it’s part of our family’s way of life.

How are you enjoying the service so far? Bootstrap is flawless. I give them 5-stars.

The BiG Stink: On a Power Trip (or just trippin’?)

By Faith Miller
Operations Manager at Bootstrap Compost, Inc.

This week “The Big Stink” is all about power. Where’s it coming from? Who’s got it? Who wants it?

On February 9th, the Supreme Court ruled to temporarily block implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan. To be clear, the Supreme Court has not rejected the Clean Power Plan (CPP); it has merely voted that the EPA cannot enforce regulations until justices decide new rules are legal. The Clean Power Plan has multiple objectives but the regulation currently on the hotseat requires states to reduce emissions from power plants by 32% of 2005 levels by 2030. The EPA outlines several strategies to achieve the cuts such as improving efficiency of existing coal-fired plants, shifting electricity generation away from coal toward natural gas, nuclear power, and renewables, and boosting end-use efficiency by consumers to meet regulations.

coal power plant

But does the EPA have the authority to coerce states into overhauling their electricity systems? It’s up for debate. The CPP has become the most contentious and heavily litigated environmental regulation ever. Currently 27 states, utility companies, coal companies and numerous other sectors have launched more than 15 separate cases against the regulations.

“The legal circus surrounding CPP may be getting serious press but it masks that all the hoopla ultimately doesn’t matter.”

Arguments against the CPP have three main flavors. One is all about legal lingo. The current version of the Clean Air Act contains two 1990 provisions (one from the House and one from the Senate) that have conflicting language over whether the EPA can regulate toxic emissions from a “source category”- in this case power plants – that is already covered in another section of the law. Basically, no regulation double dipping.  Another argument is termed “fenceline problem.” Detractors contend the EPA cannot assume states will expand clean energy to meet emission targets because renewables are beyond the “fenceline” of power plants over which the EPA has authority. The final argument is that emissions targets place undue economic hardship on states.

The legal circus surrounding CPP may be getting serious press but it masks that all the hoopla doesn’t matter. The rhetoric that America is thumbing its nose at the international community and the Paris Agreement is overblown. The passing of Justice Scalia and the appointment of a new justice is unimportant. It is irrelevant that not one remaining Republican presidential candidate supports climate change mitigation.


Why don’t all these headlining issues matter? Because a
shift away from coal is already happening. Emissions from fossil fuel powered plants dropped 18% between 2005 and 2015 and coal accounted for a record low of 29% of power generation in 2015. Not even free-falling oil prices prevented a record $328.9 billion global investment in clean energy last year. Twelve states along with several cities are not waiting for a ruling and have already begun to move forward with new regulations.

So does the EPA have power to apply CPP? Do states have the power to manage their own emissions? Beats me. What I do know is money talks and people are putting their coin behind clean energy at unprecedented rates. No matter which way the court rules, change is on the horizon and people are powering it by voting with their dollars.

Client Q&A: Zachary Patten

By Igor Kharitonenkov
Co-Founder at Bootstrap Compost, Inc.

Last week we gave a melancholy farewell to one of our long-time supporters, Zak Patten, as he packs his bags and moves out of the area. A Northeastern University graduate and marketing professional, Zak is a true Bootstrap OG, having been with us for almost our entire run of 5 years. Zak started Bootstrap services on March 7, 2011, just three months into our founding. Those were primitive times, back when we had about 40 clients (that’s roughly 1360 fewer than we have today), with only Andy to run the show with a bike and trailer. Given his commitment to composting and Bootstrap, we thought it would be fitting to sit down with Mr. Patten for a quick Q&A.

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How did you hear about us?
I don’t remember, but I might just have googled “compost pickup.”

Why did you sign up for Bootstrap?
I wanted to reduce my environmental impact in a variety of ways and this seemed like a solution that had multiple benefits.

In what other ways do you recycle, conserve and stay environmentally sound?
I recycle as much as possible and use public transportation when possible.

Do you have children? If so, are they apart of the composting process? If not, do you have
roommates? Have you influenced others to compost? (Roommates, family members, neighbors, etc.)
Yes, two children. They are helpful in dumping their leftovers into the bin. I have also told lots of friends about Bootstrap whenever composting has come up. They always think it’s a great idea.

How have you enjoyed the service?
It’s a great service, very convenient, especially with automatic payment set up.

The BiG Stink: Eating by the Bucket

By Faith Miller
Operations Manager at Bootstrap Compost, Inc.

Let’s debut “The Big Stink” with something we all do quite often: eating. This everyday activity has been plagued by the endless health claims of fad diets, “superfoods”, and public health misfires. Eggs are evil cholesterol orbs. Acai berries for life. Fats are bad; nevermind, only some fats are bad. This continued intellectual food fight has resulted in a confused public (and I’ll bet some gross meals too).

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“Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” -Michael Pollan

Two very different voices have ushered in Round 2016 of the food fight. The first contender stepping into the (onion?) ring was Dietary Guidelines for Americans jointly published every five years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Agriculture (USDA). The guidelines are the basis for school lunches, dietitian recommendations, and food labels. They are jam packed with statistics, infographs, and incredibly specific recommendations.There’s also an exhaustive table listing acceptable consumption of macronutrients, minerals, and vitamins. This is all great information, but it wasn’t meant for average Joe to use as a handbook for healthy eating. The Guidelines were created for professionals to advise patients to consume a healthy diet. The message was clear: Johnny Public needs a doctor to tell him what to eat.

A very different message was proclaimed by author and delicious food activist Michael Pollan. In December of 2015 the PBS documentary “In Defense of Food” aired. The documentary, based on Pollan’s 2008 book of the same title, answered the question: What should I eat to be healthy? While the government’s Guidelines relied on a barrage of information filtered through professionals to solve the riddle, Pollan’s entire message was summarized in 7 words- Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Boom (well, that last one’s not part of it).

“If it’s a plant, eat it. If it’s made in a plant, don’t.”
– Michael Pollan

Food, Pollan contends, is not the packaged monstrosities found in the center aisles of one’s local grocery. Those things packed with hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn michael pollansyrup, and wrapped in plastic are factory creations, not delicious healthy food. Food is all
the things found around the outside aisles of that same store such as vegetables, dairy products, meats, and fruit. “If it’s a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.” The information Pollan presented is the same found in the Guidelines. He just put an engaging bow on it and added a call to action: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I don’t want to infringe on Pollan’s genius, but I’m gonna put out my own call to action: Eat by the bucket. I’m not suggesting you eat with a bucket at your side or use the bucket for measuring portions. I mean eat things that can go in the BSC bucket. If it grows it goes and everything Pollan and the Guidelines define as healthy food can be tossed in your bucket and composted (minus meat and dairy!). So here’s the unofficial BSC guide to healthy eating: If it’s good for the bucket, it’s good for you. And that’s a food fight knockout.

The BiG Stink: Science, Policy, Environment

By Faith Miller
Operations Manager at Bootstrap Compost, Inc.

If you are a parent, sibling, teacher, honorary auntie, citizen of the world, whatever, you’ve come across a kid with a case of the whys. Why are plants green? Why is the sky blue? Why can’t I have a pony? As a kid, I had a terrible case of the whys. Fortunately for my mom, not only was I full of questions, but I had a wild imagination and invented answers before she had a chance to respond. Although everything I concocted later was debunked in the classroom, I was never disappointed enough to give up my “Faith fables.” Science, I discovered, could give me answers I would never have dreamed of (although it has yet to give me a good reason for my pony-less childhood).

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After a long morning of storming brains, Faith and Andy show off the winning title, “The Big Stink!” A blog series is born.

While I may have developed into a first-rate science nerd, other kids didn’t seem to rejoice over photosynthesis and chemistry in the same manner I did. Their lack of enthusiasm continued into adulthood; science was boring, too hard, and didn’t relate to them. Apathy toward science is maddening but understandable because the scientific community is doing a terrible job capturing the public eye. Important research never reaches the right people because the presentation is boring. All substance and no style is dandy for the fellow scientist, but it won’t fly with Johnny Public.

“Apathy toward science is maddening but understandable because the scientific community is doing a terrible job capturing the public eye.”

It seems to me that what we need is science to become a bit more relatable (and maybe even fun!) for the public at large. Thus, I present to you, “The Big Stink,” my biweekly blog series addressing not only science, but policy and environmental issues as well. I hope to kick down the ivory tower of academia and present topics of interest in a digestible manner. Speaking of digestion, stay tuned; this Thursday, we’re kicking off the series with my first post, “Eating by the Bucket,” where I address something we all do quite often, nomming!