Tag Archives: community

INTERNal Dialogue: Josh the Intern Geeks Out at Home Depot, Talks Social Media Appreciation, Tests Soil Quality

By Joshua Michael
Intern at Bootstrap Compost, Inc.

Wow! It’s been quite an adventure at Bootstrap over the last few days. I watched the garage door break, I took part in a very “social” and inspiring social media meeting, Emma and I had a moment bonding over garbage receptacles, and I was given a task to research the soil quality of Bootstrap’s compost. And I painted a wall. All in a week’s work, so let’s get right to it.

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

If you own a small business or know anyone who operates a small business, especially a small business that relies on vehicles, then you understand that having your garage door malfunction is a pretty big deal. While Andy, Igor and Faith scrambled to find a quick and effective solution, the Boot remarkably did not lose a step throughout, continuing to serve all clients amid a minor crisis, everyone working together for the collective good. It was impressive to watch the teamwork and camaraderie that keeps Bootstrap succeeding, day in and day out.

“It’s cool to see Bootstrap use social media as a resource to push for causes that need attention or are under attack by government or otherwise. As much as this company is about having a positive impacting on the environment and the community through the service, everyone here is also focused on giving the public access to information, serving as a voice for individuals and inspiring others to make a difference.”

On the topic of camaraderie, I’ve been sitting in on weekly social media strategy meetings with Emma, Andy, and Igor. To say that the meetings are entertaining would be an understatement. Every Monday morning, we engage in a healthy discussion and a few healthy laughs as the company prepares its weekly messaging. It’s a time to share ideas, opinions and maybe a joke or two. From planning a Twitter campaign aimed at providing info on soil science, to pondering over Bill Nye as an option for Bootstrap’s Famous Friday feature (but ultimately arriving at the Great American Chuck Norris, no offense, Bill), everyone does their best to keep a smile on everyone’s face and a huge part of that is through Bootstrap’s creative and open approach toward social media. For Bootstrap, social media is a space to give shout outs to movements, agencies, companies, and individuals that partner with the company. It’s also a time to figure out what Bootstrap is all about from a social responsibility perspective: what message are we spreading & what message should we be spreading?

Chuck Norris appears on Bootstrap’s “Famous Friday” Instagram campaign

I appreciate the social media meetings because it is a brief hour to unwind and discuss what is important locally, historically, and environmentally. As the intern, I’m usually tasked with collecting information for the company’s Twitter feed. It’s cool to see Bootstrap use social media as a resource to push for causes that need attention or are under attack by government or otherwise. As much as this company is about having a positive impacting on the environment and the community through the service, everyone here is also focused on giving the public access to information, serving as a voice for individuals and inspiring others to make a difference.

A Bootstrap SimpleHuman compost receptacle, provided to our office accounts.

Now for the most important part of my week. Emma and I took off to Home Depot to buy receptacles for new commercial accounts. It was here that we learned how intrigued we both are by the variety of garbage can designs, shapes, colors and options, especially ones of the SimpleHuman variety that Bootstrap buys. More importantly, during our travels, Emma and I discussed the impacts of compost, the courses available to better understand composting, and what types of ideas help Bootstrap function more efficiently on a day to day basis. Thanks to Emma, I got a crash course in business development and soil science!

Speaking of soil science, my last task for the week was to collect samples of Bootstrap’s compost to test the composition of the soil. Essentially the process was collecting three separate compost samples from the farm, putting them into a zip lock bag and sending them over the labs at UMass Boston. Why does Bootstrap do test its compost? Well, the samples are taken to gauge nutrient density, check pH levels, the cation exchange capacity (the ability of soil to hang on to essential nutrients as a way to buffer acidification) and to screen for toxic heavy metals. Clearly, the test is super important when you’re in the business of distributing healthy and happy soil amendment back to the community. I will keep you posted on what we find out.

Oh wait, there’s more. In my downtime, I also painted a wall in the office and jumped on a conference call with our insurance agent. So yea, just another week in the life of an intern at the Boot!

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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.

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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.

The Wicked Green: Seven Tips to Put Your Black Gold to Good Use

By Emma Brown
Creative Marketing at Bootstrap Compost, Inc.

Here at Bootstrap, we’re basking in the glow of another successful Compost Week! – our triannual mega giveaway of soil amendment back to the community. Some of us are celebrating with a ski trip to Vermont, others are taking in Big Sky in Montana, and surely, we’re all happy that the long hours of our successful effort are behind us so we can enjoy a nice, warm meal. As we salute our largest Compost Week! effort ever, we take pride in its monumental impact: the distribution of a whopping three tons (6,396 lbs) of compost back to the Greater Boston community, a feat only made possible by the hardworking, hard-core individuals that make up Team Bootstrap (who weathered not one, but two snow storms this time around!) White outs or not, black gold was delivered to over 1000+ households and businesses. And we recognize that some of you are new and may not be fully in the know on how to use your finished compost, so here’s a quick rundown on how (and why) to put your soil amendment to good use. But first, a little breakdown by neighborhood:

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How much black gold did your neighborhood receive?

Alright, let’s talk compost! Here are seven tips to get you started:

1) Soil loses nutrients through erosion, over-cultivation, and culling of organic matter. Compost infuses nutrients back into soil. But what kind of nutrients?

2) Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the most important elements for healthy plants. Luckily, these macronutrients can be found in abundance in healthy compost, thus serving to revitalize depleted soils and frustrated flora. But what, exactly, DO they DO? In short, this:
Nitrogen is essential for photosynthesis.
Phosphorus helps plants develop new tissue.
Potassium is essential for the movement of water.

3) Compost also helps soil retain moisture. Not sure where to start? If you have any house plants, add a healthy 1/4 – 1/2 inch layer of compost to the base of your plants.

4) If you’re doing any re-potting, be sure to mix compost into your soil. Up to 1/3 of the mixture can be compost, but no more than that! Over-saturation of compost can actually be detrimental to the health of the plant (let’s call it nutrient overload).

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Emma gets compost ready to sift + pack!

5) Compost can benefit all types of soils. Is your soil sandy and loose? Compost will help bind it together, giving your plants more stability. Is your soil more clay-like? Compost will help increase its porosity, giving roots a chance to breathe.

6) You can also use finished compost as a mulch. If you spread it around the base of your outdoor plants, trees, and shrubs, it’ll help shade and protect the underlying soil, as well as increase water retention. Plus, the nutrients will sink into the soil over time!

7) Finally, you can use finished compost to make compost tea, which is a potent, nutrient-dense solution you can spray plants with. How do you make compost tea? Place your compost into a porous fabric bag (burlap or cheesecloth, for example), and steep in water for 24 hours. Use the resulting solution to spray plants, no more than once per week.

There you have it! Do you have any other uses of compost that I forgot? Feel free to post them, as well as questions, comments, concerns, dirty fingernails, etc in the comment section! And find us on Twitter under hashtag #bscgrows for more gardening and composting tips!

Also, 574 degrees Fahrenheit and 574 Kelvin are the same temperature.

The Wicked Green: Trash 2 Treasure

By Emma Brown
Creative Marketing at Bootstrap Compost, Inc.

Ah, September 1, or as the college kids say, “Allston Christmas.” Every year, the end of August and beginning of September brings a frenzy of moving vans, bad traffic and displaced household items scattered around the city of Boston, particularly in areas densely populated by college students. But unlike December 25th, Allston Christmas looks more like an apocalypse, due to the mounds of displaced furniture lining the streets. Save for a relatively small batch of treasures that lucky passers-by’s have collected, most of the furniture is hauled off to the landfill.

allstonchristmas04

Allston Christmas in all its glory. Credit: Olga Khvan/ Boston Magazine

Allston Christmas or not, a lot of salvageable furniture hiding on these streets goes unnoticed. On top of that, adding to landfills creates more greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, and costs the community a lot of money through disposal fees. The problem is – not surprisingly – particularly bad around college towns, which is why a former student from the University of New Hampshire, Alex Fried, founded Trash 2 Treasure (T2T). Trash 2 Treasure is an entirely student-led group that collects unwanted items, stores them in a safe place, and resells them at the beginning of each fall semester. In doing this, the group has saved thousands of dollars for the University and hundreds of thousands of tons of would-be waste from landfills.

Okay, a quick disclaimer. I attended UNH and I’ve personally donated items in the spring and purchased items in the fall. I love it. There are a lot of fantastic things about T2T. It’s entirely free and extremely simple for students to donate unwanted items. Volunteers set up donation zones in dorms and other central campus locations, then haul, sort, and resell the items. All of the profits from the sales go back into operating costs.

“On a fundamental level, waste is just resources in the wrong place.”

-Alex Freid, founder, Post-Landfill Action Network

Programs like Trash 2 Treasure, and its parent nonprofit the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN) demonstrate that recycling can be cost effective, work well, and reduce your carbon footprint. Since 2010, T2T has expanded to over 40 schools across the country, and it only continues to grow. So, you students at MIT, Northeastern, and Clark, check out your alternative options on or off campus before you toss that old chair on the side of the road. You never know who might want it.

Please add questions, comments, concerns, sofas, etc. to the comment section below!

Also, in quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that the momentum and position of a particle cannot be measured at the same time. If this were possible, it is theorized that the entire past and present of the particle could be calculated.

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!

Ringing in Spring with Compost Week!

After months of collecting and composting food scraps through rain, snow, and sun-deprivation, we were thrilled to announce our spring edition of Compost Week! — our seasonal distribution of finished compost back to the community. Between April 4th and 15th, a six-pound share of our black gold (hand-sifted and mixed) made its way to your stoop, with hopes of boosting the health and yield of your houseplant, raised bed, or garden plot. And modesty be damned, this batch of finished compost is likely our best yet — dark, moist, and fluffy. It’s truly Boot-iful. And we’re hoping your flora feel the same way. So how did we do?

IMG_7397

Largely hidden from public view since 2011, Buckethead reappears to spread soil for the soul.

As we salute our largest Compost Week! effort ever, we take pride in its monumental impact: the distribution of a whopping two and a half tons (5,144 lbs) of compost back to the Greater Boston community (a feat only made possible by the hardworking, hard-core individuals that make up Team Bootstrap). Let’s break it down, town by town…

The fertile soils of Jamaica Plain will rejoice, as our founding neighborhood stayed true to its green roots and pulled in a healthy share of 1,190 lbs of compost. Across the river, the Fluffernutter-loving people of Somerville weren’t far behind, amassing 1,012 lbs of compost. Up third, Cambridge collected 380 lbs of black gold, amounting to a treasure of growing power for The People’s Republic. Capturing fourth and fifth place, respectively, were Brookline with 334 lbs of soil amendment received and Arlington, which took in nearly 200 pounds. The remaining 2,032 pounds were hand delivered across the Hub, from Malden to Quincy, Southie to Wellesley, and everywhere in between. Big shout to each and every one of you making good use of your soil amendment. As a quick tip, remember that a ¼” of compost on top of your soil will help your plants retain moisture and nutrients. If you’re mixing soil and compost, a ratio of 3 parts soil to 1 part compost is ideal. Stay tuned for a series of blog posts and Tweets that will provide additional gardening info and tips.

IMG_7401

Six pounds of black gold spotted in Cambridgeport.

Lastly, we’d like to highlight the gardens and organizations that took part in our donation program, while thanking our residential clients who elected to have their share donated. This year’s crop of donation recipients includes Glen Park Community Garden in East Somerville (which will put 90 pounds of Bootstrap compost to use) and the Cambridge Community Center garden and Malden Community Garden, both of which received 60 pounds. Our donation program is first-come, first-served — so give us a holler if you have any compost needs for your school, community garden, or organization.

IMG_7477

In total, 858 containers of compost were signed, sealed and delivered, courtesy of Jacob & co.

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!

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

Compost Round Up: “Know your compost friends”

As we’re all aware, compost week-or weeks, shall we say, has been a main focus of BSC lately. If you spent any time shoveling, sifting, or packing, you may have noticed a number of compost critters, or “friends”, living amongst the piles.

Alas, we’re referring to millipedes, roly polies, collembolas, snails, bacteria, worms and more! Verily, they make compost what it is, but, how well do we know our friends? What do they like to eat? What characteristics make them unique? What do they look like? How do they interact with each other?

See the attached ‘Compost Critter Information Sheet’ to get acquainted. Whether you’re composting at home or in a classroom, this is a resource for identifying different creatures and their individual benefits for your compost pile!

Compost Critters Information Sheet

Compost Round Up: “Bokashi Composting”

For this week, we’d like to report on a topic that our operations manager Faith recently brought to our attention, Bokashi Composting. It’s quite a bit different than the ‘backyard’ composting we’re used to, but still a method commonly put into practice.

For starters, meat and diary can be composted. Food scraps are fermented, thus the organic matter should have as little oxygen as possible. We’re used to turning piles, making sure they are aerated to facilitate decomposition. In Bokashi, a bran containing microbes is spread on top of scraps, rather than allowing nature to do it’s job.

Have any of you tried this before or know someone who has?

Read here to learn more about the history and use of Bokashi.