By Igor Kharitonenkov and Andrew Brooks
Co-founders of Bootstrap Compost, Inc.
For Team Bootstrap, another year of compost hijinks is nearly in the books. It’s hard to believe that 2016 represents our sixth consecutive year of battling climate change by collecting and transforming food scraps into a useful commodity. That’s nearly 315 straight weeks of making Boston a better place, but who’s counting? Actually, we are and we’d like to sincerely thank the 1,800 plus families, individuals, households, restaurants, cafes, places of worship, yoga studios, offices and shoe companies that keep the Boot running week after week and day after day. This past year alone, we welcomed 830 residential accounts to go along with 46 new commercial accounts. Amazingly, over the past 12 months our community of Bootstrappers helped us keep 665,298 pounds of food scraps out of landfills. Since our founding in 2011, we’ve diverted over 1,701,800 pounds of organics and compostables from the traditional waste stream while offsetting 1,225,319 pounds of GHGs. To put that last figure into perspective, consider that it’s the equivalent of:
- Planting 15,871 trees
- Creating 580 acres of forest land
- Preventing 653,953 pounds of coal from being burned
- Keeping 69,022 gallons of gasoline from being consumed
We’ve also created 850,916 pounds of compost. But we don’t keep the dirt, we dish it. This year, we were happy to distribute 1,700 shares of Compost Week! rations amounting to more than 11,000 pounds of black gold that ensured the nourishment of many a subscriber’s plants. Additionally, Bootstrap donated 330 pounds of compost to the following local schools and gardens: Glen Park Community Garden in Somerville, which received 90 pounds; the Cambridge Community Center and the Malden Community Garden, both of which received 60 lbs; Urban Edge in Roxbury, which accepted 30 pounds; and Chelsea Public Schools, which benefited from a 90-pound share of Bootstrap’s locally-engineered compost.
That’s not the only thing we gave out. As a token of appreciation, over 30 of our most veteran clients received handmade Bootstrap t-shirts. See our merch here. And while we stayed mighty busy composting for our subscribers, we also managed to squeeze in a variety of weekend and evening events too, including weddings, festivals and bat/bar mitzvahs. Among this year’s feats: We collected 475 pounds of compostables from the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival (our biggest event to date with over 10,000 attendees) and 206 pounds from Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp event. If you’re having an event in 2017, by golly hit us up.
Central to our mission, we also dished out loads of new information, online and in the flesh. For starters, we completely revamped and launched a new website in October, featuring easy-to-use forms for enrollment and our most straightforward payment system to date. Meanwhile, our social media platforms — where we tout the merits of composting — received a healthy boost as well, thanks largely to the launch of two green-minded series, The BiG Stink and The Wicked Green, both of which premiered on our blog. Notably, the BiG Stink recently wrapped up an in-depth four-part series comparing organic and conventional farming. (Give it a read, it’s good stuff, rivaling content from, well, anywhere.) Our Instagram presence continued to blossom, thanks in part to our FamousFriday feature, wherein we pair — often to ridiculous effect — a notable human with a Bootstrap bucket. (Hey, you got to do something to get through the week.) Additionally, our Facebook and Twitter profiles helped us spread awareness about composting, the environment and other sustainable causes and ventures. Outside of our online community, Team Bootstrap attended and spoke at various events and happenings throughout Greater Boston, including the Northeast Recycling Council conference in Portsmouth, N.H. (where Andy sat on a panel about community composting) and student discussions at Newton High School and Milton Academy, among other places of learning. Bootstrap also hosted a group of young summer campers from Land’s Sake in Weston; a delegation of high school entrepreneurs from Taiwan; and three sustainable professionals from Indonesia (an event organized by the U.S. State Department!). All this in addition to conducting dozens of our patented “Welcome to Bootstrap” presentations. This is where we preach the merits and best practices of composting to staffers at new commercial accounts. Through this practice, Bootstrap has championed composting to thousands of Bostonians.
And while we worked hard, we still managed to have a bit of fun. We celebrated our five-year anniversary at our holiday party in January. In July, the team took its annual (paid) beers and beach retreat and most recently we held our inaugural Halloween costume contest (it was a three-way tie between Kurt Cobain, a mad scientist, and a dinosaur; hey, whatever gets you through the year). Staff wise, we were thrilled to welcome and work with 15 new employees and interns and partnered with leading nonprofit Triangle, Inc. to provide work opportunities to people with disabilities. And to accommodate our growing staff and their personal lives, we condensed our work week to Monday through Friday (we worked on Saturdays for years). Somehow, with all this stuff going on, several members of the Boot gang found time to continue their education! Andy and Emma received certification as Master Compost Technicians through the prestigious Maine Compost School; Igor wrapped up a year-long holistic nutrition program; Wesly is studying for the GMAT exam and Matt received licensed clinical social worker certification; and a number of us are actively enrolled in a variety of coursework. Others of us played rock n’ roll shows, visited National Parks across the country, hiked mountains in the Northeast, went swimming, traveled abroad and not one, but two drivers quit mid shift. What can we say? This work is not for everyone, but for individuals who like to play hard and work hard (because it’s hard work) Bootstrap is the perfect fit. And doing our part to salvage organic resources while taking on climate change in our own little way is tremendously rewarding. We appreciate our subscribers for giving us the opportunity to do that. Thank you for a wonderful 2016. We’ll keep the buckets coming in 2017.