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The Wicked Green: 8 Tips to be Green in 2017

By Emma Brown
Creative Marketing at Bootstrap Compost, Inc.

Every year in early January, folks across the world make resolutions of all sorts: exercise more, eat healthier, spend more time with family and friends, call that aunt you barely know. If you’re looking for some ideas to set your sights on this year, look no further! Here are 8 tips that will make your life a little more sustainable in the coming year.

  1. Buy less, and buy more often: unless you’re buying for a large family or a big meal, chances are you can get away with buying fewer ingredients. The trick here is to shop more often. That way, you always have the freshest produce, and you’re less likely to waste food (50% of all produce in the United States is thrown away!)
  2. Buy locally: if and when you can, buy from local growers. It’s a no-brainer that your items will be fresher and more nutritious! You’ll also be supporting your own community and leaving a smaller carbon footprint. Just think, an average meal travels 1500+ miles from farm to plate! And don’t forget, buying locally applies to art and music, too.
  3. Grow your own: if you have any sort of green thumb, try growing your own herbs and veggies this year. Basil, mint, garlic, and tomatoes are all easy plants to take care of, and you can grow them in a variety of spaces. See our Twitter hashtag #BSCgrows or read our “Bootstrap Grows” blog posts for tips and tricks!

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    Meet Tom, my tomato plant. This guy was grown in a 5-gallon bucket on my back porch. Shoot me a comment and I can tell you more!

  4. Walk, bike, or take public transit: do what you can to reduce your dependence on your own motor vehicle. Did you know that one gallon of gasoline produces ~20 pounds of carbon dioxide? So ask yourself, do you need to drive to the grocery store for milk, or can you walk there? Do you live in a city with public transport options? Some companies offer incentives for using public transport – explore what your employer has to offer. Or hop on your bike and get a workout in! Just please, wear a helmet.
  5. Ditch the gym membership: we all join with great intentions, but unless you use it regularly and you just CAN’T stand running in the cold (personally, I’m in this boat), you can save time, money, and energy by exercising outside near your home or work.
  6. Only print what you need to: we live in a digital age, and frequently there’s no reason for printed materials anymore. Do you need a hard statement of your credit card bill mailed to you? Do you need to print directions to your child’s basketball game? If the answer is no, do yourself (and the planet) a favor and save these items to your computer or cell phone. You’ll save ink, trees, and water too!
  7. Compost: Whether you want to try out a worm bin, build a compost pile in your back yard, or sign up for a subscription service, give composting a try! Your trash will smell way less, you reduce your contribution to landfills – methane emitting powerhouses, and in return, you’ll get a great soil amendment at the end of the process.

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    Wishing you peace, love & compost in 2017

  8. Consider alternative energyif you own your home, check out your options for alternative energy! Federal tax credits and state incentives offer price breaks for installing solar panels, and you can sleep easier knowing that you aren’t relying on an archaic, heavily polluting technology. Massachusetts and other states also allow you to subscribe to programs that source local and renewable energy to your home.

Bootstrap co-founder Igor couldn’t help but chime in: “Carry a reusable bag, replace your incandescent bulbs to CFLs and LEDs, and use your own water bottle!” So there you have it, folks. A list of easy ways to be a more eco-sustainable you this upcoming year!

What are your suggestions? What will you try, or what doesn’t work for you? Please share ideas, questions, comments, seedlings, and the like!

Also, the first enzyme to be discovered was amylase, which catalyses the hydrolysis of starch into sugars. In humans, it’s found in the saliva and is responsible for the beginning the chemical process of digestion.

2016: The Year Bootstrap Kicked it into Overdrive

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.

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2016: the Boot covered some ground, from hanging with Buckethead to Michael Pollan

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.

Bootstrap Grows: 8 Tips for a Healthy Garden

By Emma Brown
Creative Marketing at Bootstrap Compost, Inc.

With the weather heating up and your seedlings firmly planted in your garden beds, we’re ready to share some tips on how to keep your garden healthy. If you haven’t started growing yet, don’t worry, we’ve got your back with “7 Tips to Sprout your Garden“.  We’ll continue to share more as the season continues, but for now, here are 8 tips to keep your garden happy and healthy. 

1.) Don’t overcrowd your herbs: cilantro, chives, dill, and parsley each need 1 square foot between plants; basil, thyme, and tarragon each need 2 square feet; rosemary, sage, mint, and oregano each need 3-4 square feet.

2.) Fruits and veggies also need plenty of space, but you can save space by growing vertically, either on a wall or in a container.

3.) Young plants need a lot of attention! Water them frequently, and don’t forget to trim any dead or yellowing leaves.

4.) You don’t need chemical pesticides to ward off predators. You can steep onion, garlic, and hot pepper in hot water for several days to make a natural spray.

kale bucket

Back at the Boot, we’re growing. More info and pricing on our self-contained bucket gardens coming soon.

5.) Similarly, a solution of water and powdered kelp will keep Japanese beetles and aphids at bay.

6.) One last spray: a spoonful of canola oil + a few drops of soap in water will kill mites and aphids. But don’t use it in hot, sunny, weather, as the soap will cause leaves to burn.

7.) Not all bugs are foes: ladybugs will eat harmful insects. You can attract them by planting herbs like dill, fennel, and cilantro, or flowers like dandelions and geraniums.

8.) Got rabbits? Plant marigolds or garlic around your plants, and eliminate tall weeds and other hiding spots to keep the bunnies out.

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.

Delicacies from the Dregs: the Spirit of Life, Compost and Rebirth

by Karen Krolak
Artistic Director/Founder of Monkeyhouse and Faculty Member of Impulse Dance Center

Who would have ever guessed that your table scraps would keep my brother’s quirky spirit alive? As Bootstrap Compost geared up for their second Compost Week!, I thought they would appreciate knowing how my husband, Jason and I had used our first batch. After they read my email, they invited me to share my story with the larger Bootstrap community.

I grew up in a very eccentric family. My older brother, Patrick, was legendary among our friends for the obsessive way that he dove into subjects ranging from paranormal phenomenon (he contacted scientists at MIT about his theories on sonar problems in finding Loch Ness…when he was in the fifth grade) to physics to the plight of the American Chestnut. No one is sure why he decided to grow 75 heirloom tomato plants in the early months of 2012. He had never really shown any interest in the fruit before but according to his wife, he spent hours nurturing them and conversing with them as they grew to over 6 feet tall!

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Original tomatoes from Patrick’s garden

On August 25, 2012, an SUV crossed the median of a highway in upstate New York and crashed into my parents’ convertible. My mother, father, and Patrick were instantly killed. At the time Jason, our mutt, Kwaq7aj’ (The 7 is silent and it is pronounced Quacks), and I were in the midst of moving. We were crashing at our dear friend, Nicole’s, apartment when the police arrived to notify us. May you never have to know the dizzying sense of being so fundamentally lost and shattered. Continue reading