Category Archives: Community

INTERNal Dialogue: Josh the Intern Visits Farm, Talks Compost Appreciation

By Joshua Michael
Intern at Bootstrap Compost, Inc.

To help understand a little about why it is that I am interning at Bootstrap, it is only appropriate that I share with you some minute details about myself. My name is Joshua Michael, and I was born and raised in Chicago. I am 22 years old and I will be receiving my Bachelors in Environmental Studies & Anthropology in May of 2017. I attend Wheelock College in the Fenway area.

Hi my name is Josh and I intern at Bootstrap!

Hi my name is Josh and I’m your official Bootstrap Intern

My goal, as an environmentalist with an interest in the Anthropocene, is to find unique perspectives on how we can reshape our understanding of waste management in order to benefit ourselves & more importantly the earth. I am very passionate about the environment, which may seem obvious due to the degree, and I am somewhat of a sustainability aficionado, self-proclaimed of course. I would be quite the pessimist, which there are more than enough of in the world of environmentalism, if I did not believe that we are still in a position to change our anthropological impacts on the environment. However, we must act with a sense of urgency as a general population – not just wait and hope for change from our world leaders.

All of this sums up why I ended up at Bootstrap. So what have I been up to? For the last month, I have been working hands on with almost all of the tasks that make Bootstrap function with relative ease. The first week at Bootstrap I was processing residential food scraps, which would later be driven to the farm to be composted. We even received some finished compost in return. Later in the week I would learn how to prep each of the buckets that we send back to customers (so if they looked a little lopsided, I apologize in advance!).

“Going to the farm, dumping food scraps, and watching the bulldozer pick up finished compost and dump it into the truck bed is a beautiful closed-loop process that all people should be exposed to.”

In my second week I would learn a great deal more about Bootstrap by getting to meet and spent time with cofounders Andy Brooks and Igor Kharitonenkov and marketing and customer service whiz Emma Brown. This is where I was introduced to the company’s humble beginnings in a tiny backyard in the JP area and how it eventually came to grow and scale to meet the needs of 2000+ clients!

From the archives: Bootstrap food scraps arrive at Rocky HIll, circa 2014

Bootstrap food scraps arrive at Rocky Hill, patiently waiting to be turned into compost!

The second week was exciting because, going about my work in the warehouse, I got to eavesdrop on a presentation Andy was giving to a tour group from MIT, and I learned about the chemical make-up of compost and the macro nutrients that help feed soil. I try my best to eavesdrop all things science. Additionally, I was able to work hands on with the compost that Bootstrap receives from their farms by unloading it from the pickup truck and then sifting it – making sure to take out large sticks and rocks so customers receive the best and fluffiest compost in return.

rocky-hill-farm

From the archives: Loading up compost at Rocky Hill (ca. 2013)

Honestly though, the most amazing experience so far has been seeing the process that the food scraps go through on the farm. Rocky Hill Farm in Saugus is one of the farms that Bootstrap teams up with. Along with Emma, I got to watch large industrial machines process the last bit of waste and catch anything that may not be compostable. Seeing this kind of a large-scale operation helped me realize that this is something that can be replicated on a much larger level all over the country and the world – and indeed should be in order to better the environment. Going to the farm, dumping food scraps, and watching the bulldozer pick up finished compost and dump it into the truck bed is a beautiful closed-loop process that all people should be exposed to. It was in that moment that I began to truly appreciate composting. The process itself warrants respect and notice because it is labor intensive – a tough job that requires a delicate nature to produce the best soil amendment for our soils. All while keeping food waste out of landfills.

That’s it for now. But stay tuned, I will continue with a regular posts until my internship is complete in early June! Thanks for reading! Until next time.

Client Q&A: Southie Simmons

By Emma Brown
Creative Marketing at Bootstrap Compost, Inc.

Ahh, Southie. Home to many young professional implants and native Bostonians alike. 11-4-2015 11-10-12 AMAnd while it isn’t the largest community of Bootstrappers, their excitement for composting is second to none. We could casually mention an article from Caught in Southie featuring us and longtime subscriber Mari, or we could drop the ever-growing list of businesses earning their green keep. Instead, today we’ll focus on Katherine “Southie” Simmons, another longtime subscriber, home cook, and young professional living in Southie. We couldn’t do it without you, Katherine!

southie monument

A beautiful day at Dorchester Heights in Southie

1. How long have you been a client of Bootstrap Compost?
For almost two years, since August of 2014.

2. How did you hear about us?
Honestly, I forget, but I heard long before I signed up. I had always kept Bootstrap in my mind and when I moved I had a much better location for pick ups/drop offs and storing my bucket.

3. Why did you sign up for Bootstrap?
I cook and always have a lot of scraps.  It seemed like such a waste that I was using my garbage disposal so much – or even worse, stinking my trash out.

4. In what other ways do you recycle, conserve and stay environmentally sound?
I do recycle and try to buy locally grown food when possible.  I’m also a member of Boston Organics.

5. How are you enjoying the service so far?
I love it!  And when I have a busy week, it always amazes me how much I can stuff in my bucket!  Just this week, I had some dead plants, cut flowers, and food scraps of all kinds – coffee grinds and banana peels are usually the most frequent fliers in my bucket.

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Taking a green bucket to a whole new level!

Client Q&A: Pulp Nonfiction at The Juicery

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

Each and every week, Bootstrap helps The Juicery keep 550 pounds of beautiful pulp out of landfills, amounting to a whopping 43,450 lbs of food waste composted since October 2014. Our combined effort has created 21,000+ lbs of compost for local use and offset 41,277 lbs of GHGs – the equivalent of planting 239 trees! And, as an added bonus, I get to stop in and treat myself to my favorite smoothie in town, the Kale Storm. On a recent visit to the North End locale, I took time to chat with one-time manager Caitlin Moakley (who has since relocated to another sweet company, Sweetgreen) about our partnership and what it means to have Bootstrap serving the juice bar.

Caitlin Juicery

Ms. Moakley recognizes the value of sustainable business practices, explaining that “aside from serving food to our customers, we also serve them by composting.”

1.) How long has The Juicery been a client of Bootstrap Compost?
The Juicery has been a client of Bootstrap Compost since October of 2014.

2.) How did you hear about us?
I personally heard about Bootstrap through the SBN (Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts), when I was looking for sustainable, mission-focused jobs after college.

3.) Why did The Juicery sign up for Bootstrap?
The Juicery signed up for Bootstrap because it makes perfect sense. As a business, I believe it is our responsibility to provide our customers with excellent service – to me, that means serving them in more ways than one! Aside from serving food to our customers, we also serve them by composting all of our food scraps. Whatever comes from the earth, we want to put back into it, and not into a garbage bag, being of no use to our environment!

“Many employees didn’t understand what composting was before they began working for us – knowledge is for sure one of the bigger benefits!”

4.) What kind of benefits do your employees or your company derive from the service?
I know we gain the personal satisfaction of knowing that we are creating less “trash” on a daily basis. I know all of my employees have taken a second look at what’s in their hands, and where they should “throw it out” before doing so. Having Bootstrap has allowed all of my employees to not only recognize the benefits of composting within the workplace, but also within their own homes. Many employees didn’t understand what composting was before they began working for us – knowledge is for sure one of the bigger benefits!

5.) Are new employees educated on the benefits and the specifics of composting within your company? If so, how?
New employees become familiar with composting right from the start, hired or not! I explain the composting process in interviews to see if potential employees are with it or not. The sustainable side of our business is the most important to me so I hammer this home within our employees. I explain that any waste we accumulate that comes from the earth can go right back into it. I make sure that employees know to never throw any paper towels with sanitizer or cleaning solutions into the compost, as these are chemicals and ultimately, not something you would want to eat! Visuals always seem to work best, by grabbing each piece of waste, whether it be food, compostable utensils, cups, etc. and showing them where to divert their waste.

Client Q&A: Sustainable Cynthia

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

Have you ever wondered how you could take your sustainability game to the next level? I applaud anyone who is composting, recycling or riding their bike to work; all laudable lifestyle choices that help keep our community clean. But what about installing a Monarch Butterfly Waystation? Or only planting native species in your yard?

For years now, since “waking up” and aspiring to live a more sustainable, fulfilling and mindful life, my proverbial green thumb has been out and about, hitchhike style, ready to be taken to my next truth. I’ve always wondered what other personal measures we could take to conserve. Planting gardens? Installing rain receptacles? My curiosity was satiated when I ran into Somerville Bootstrap subscriber Cynthia Williams, who shared with me a myriad of new and exciting ideas. If you are a fan of sustainability, Bootstrap Compost or just our blog, I highly recommend you check out Sustainable Cynthia’s Guide to Green Livin’ (aka the list below). And Cynthia, you are a true EcoHero, thank you for your commitment to composting and to our environment.

for bootstrap compost (2)

EcoHero Cynthia (left), proudly showing off her Bootstrap bucket with her roommates.

1. How long have you been a client of Bootstrap Compost?
We’ve been clients for nearly one year. We started in May of 2015.

2. How did you hear about us?
When we moved to the neighborhood a year ago we saw the bucket our neighbor put out and inquired.

3. Why did you sign up for Bootstrap?
I’m concerned about putting compostable waste in the landfill, and I’m concerned about using my kitchen sink disposal because of water usage. The twice-monthly pick-up seems perfect!

4. In what other ways do you recycle, conserve and stay environmentally sound?
We can always do more, but here’s what we’re doing so far —

  • Our household of four adults has only one vehicle, and it’s a hybrid that is used maybe four times a week.
  • We’ve taken up most of the lawn because grass isn’t a good investment environmentally.
  • I’m working on making our yard a Monarch Butterfly Waystation, but we have a small property, so we may not actually qualify, but even if we don’t, we’ll be helping.
  • I water ornamentals and the little patch of lawn that’s left via a rain barrel.
  • I plant only native plants.
  • For 30 years, we’ve used only cloth napkins, no paper. We do not use paper towels or things like Swifters.
  • We use silicone lids instead of plastic wrap for food going into the fridge.
  • We have durable washable sandwich bags rather than plastic throwaways.
  • We buy larger quantities of foods to minimize packaging. And down with single-serve coffee machines!
  • We use our own cloth shopping bags.
  • We use only environmentally sound cleaning products.
  • We bought all highly-rated Energy Star appliances and prioritize gas.
  • We belong to an organic CSA.
  • We are looking into solar panels.

5. Do you have roommates? Have you influenced others to compost?
We’re a household of four adults. I don’t know whether we’ve influenced others to compost, but we’re spreading the word about Bootstrap!

6. How are you enjoying the service so far?
We love it!

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.

ZakPatten-BootstrapBucket (2)

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.

2015: The Year Bootstrap Learned to Tie Its Boots

By Igor Kharitonenkov, Co-Founder

It wasn’t long ago when Bootstrap Compost, serving just a couple hundred clients around town, was operating out of our backyards (Andy’s and my own), much to the chagrin of our neighbors. We did it all – collection, cleaning and delivery. At just 24 years young, I quickly learned the art of business negotiation; pizzas were exchanged and annoyances were quelled. When the going gets tough, buy them off with pie, I say.

2011 - Max cleaning buckets in the backyard.

2011 – Max cleaning buckets in the backyard.

Still, our little operation was bothering more than just our immediate abutters. With a garden hose running 100 feet from my third-story apartment down to the backyard cleaning station, the message was clear: “Sorry roommates, you’ll have to hydrate elsewhere.” And to think we cleaned outdoors. In the winter. In Boston. For that reason, we even managed to anger ourselves. To this day, I’m not quite sure how we pulled it all off were it not for Andy, Adam, Jake, Jonas, Everett, Max and those first few staffers who had the heart, humor, and courage to believe in our operation.

And they weren’t wrong to believe.

Much has changed since those early rug rat days and 2015 will always serve as the year we put on our big boy pants. For starters, Continue reading

Wake Up to Compost: an Introduction

By Lucy Dilworth

lucy headshotHi everyone! I wanted to formally introduce myself as the newest addition to the Bootstrap community. My name is Lucy and I’m a fresh faced blogger from Maine who recently planted roots in the big city. I graduated last spring from Miami University in Ohio where I studied creative writing. Post-graduation, I indulged in my wanderlust and traveled to the opposite side of the world where I lived with an array of fascinating individuals, including a citrus farmer and a taxidermist. At one point, I found myself composting New Zealand soil with the locals! Despite my ever-changing scenery, I’m grateful to now be in a city where I have the opportunity to be educated on urban composting and pass my knowledge onto others.

Although it’s been awesome to see residential and commercial food scrap collections in an urban setting, I was even more astounded when I saw a composting bin at my 86-year-old grandmother’s house a few weeks ago in Manchester-By-The-Sea. In terms of my own awareness of composting, it’s been very limited until recently. During college, I lived with seven other girls. We certainly produced enough organic waste to compost. Sadly, our priorities lay within what we were going to wear out on the weekends rather than learning to recycle and reuse. When I saw my grandmother’s composting bin, I knew that I was way late to the game. Most people don’t compost because they don’t know how to or why it’s beneficial, which is a category I am guilty of falling into. However, with my new gig at Bootstrap and all the resources I have access to here and online, I can now start to learn about more sustainable practices at home and beyond. And composting? I guess it’s so easy my grandma can do it.

WUTE sponsorSpeaking of revelations, last month I worked my first Bootstrap event at the Wake Up the Earth Festival while also entering Jamaica Plain territory for the first time (or JP as the cool kids say). The festival was a perfect exposure to one of the communities I’ll be working with and an alternative and educational way to spend my Saturday afternoon. It was also the perfect place for anyone trying to get over their agoraphobia. It was a humbling, yet successful experience considering I ran out of flyers within the first hour and one of my managers mistook me for an eager client with inappropriate personal space as I stood with him behind the Bootstrap table. On a positive note, Continue reading

Compost Round Up: The Mighty 3-Tiered Compost System

Each week, Bootstrap Compost will be publishing the Compost Round Up. The Round Up will be a weekly serving of compost news from Boston and beyond. It is our hope that these articles, essays, videos and studies will further our knowledge about composting, including terminology, its public perception, its challenges, and its evolution.

The Mighty 3-Tiered Compost System

For our first Compost Round Up, we’ve selected a short video documenting the construction of a three-tiered composting system made from palettes. While it’s not necessarily the best instructional video, the end product is far and away the best looking example of this type of structure we’ve seen among the countless videos on this topic.

Meanwhile, the main reason we selected this subject is because Bootstrap spearheaded a similar design at the Harvard Community Garden last summer. It’s our donation, of sorts, to the Harvard Farmer’s Market for hosting BSC all summer long as a (free) vendor.

We encourage you to watch the related videos on the YouTube sidebar (and there are, surprise, a lot of them). But again, what struck us most about this video was the simplicity, affordability, and functionality of this particular finished system.

A Green Gospel: Tiny Kitchen Scraps Have Big Civic Impact

Greetings compost nuts!

Since May, we’ve welcomed over 200 new Bootstrappers into our growing community of urban composters. With so many of you new to the Bootstrap game, we figured it prudent to take a moment to outline the tremendous benefits of having you on board. Your commitment to composting (a completely voluntary commitment at that) is laudable. So please, take a bow.

Now, let’s look at the impacts!

MeganatWrightLocke

Tiny kitchen scraps; big civic impact!

As a Bootstrap customer, you’re reducing your own carbon footprint (to date, you’ve helped to eliminate the emission of more than half a million pounds of harmful GHGs into the atmosphere), while helping to produce a over 250,000 pounds of natural soil amendment for local growers. Talk about a twofer! Additionally, as a BSC client you’ve helped create and fund over a dozen green jobs; support educational programming for students from kindergarten to college; and reduce the detrimental effects of landfills. So whether you know it or not, every Bootstrap subscriber is part of a community of activists that is spreading a profoundly more sustainable way of life. As a result, your membership allows The Boot to fulfill our biggest mission: empowering residents of Boston and its environs to Continue reading