Most of us wake up each day, make our coffee, cook some meals, and dispose of the grounds and scraps in our garbage, never really thinking about where it all ends up.
According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the largest component of solid waste sent to incinerators and landfills is food waste. A 2004 University of Arizona study indicated that 15% of edible food in the United States is untouched or unopened, amounting to about $43 billion worth of discarded, edible food. A Cornell University food and brand lab found that 93% of respondents acknowledged buying food they never used. And yet another study by the Natural Resources Defense Council revealed that about 40% of food in the United States is never eaten, amounting to around $165 billion a year in food waste. All of this activity takes a toll on our water resources and the environment by burdening our landfills and incinerators and creating greenhouse gas emissions.
Concerned about those statistics, the health of our planet, and the future their toddler, Genevieve, will inherit, Ridgefield residents Nick and Erica Skeadas left their jobs, took a leap of faith, and in 2016 started Curbside Compost, a local company that not only provides environmentally focused waste management solutions but offers ways to give back to the earth by recycling and repurposing the waste they pick up.
“We wanted to support the community and the environment by increasing recycling in Fairfield County and offering everyone an easy way to compost,” says Nick, who before founding the company worked as an asset manager focused on environmental, social and governance-related investments.
The couple had specific goals in mind when they launched Curbside Compost: improve environmental sustainability, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the amount of organics sent to incinerators and landfills, benefit soil, address how households and businesses dispose of food leftovers, and most importantly, take composting mainstream — in town or on the outskirts.
In 2016, the company diverted more than 20,000 pounds of organics from incinerators — and more than three yards of compost were returned to the earth to benefit local soil. And over the last several months, with support from residents, the company diverted more than 9,000 pounds of organics from incinerators.
Curbside Compost also provides waste minimization services for large companies, local businesses, and events. While individual households get weekly pickup, at $24 per month, larger generators and events may require more customized solutions.
“We started local but eventually people from all over Fairfield County were asking for the service, so we now service them,” recounts Erica, a registered dietitian and Ridgefield native who studied business at Babson College, got a master’s degree in clinical nutrition from NYU, and headed up the nutrition department for a nationally recognized psychiatrist before she and Nick started their new venture.
“Thanks to the Westport Farmers’ Market and Curbside Compost, I took my first step toward composting,” says new customer Maggie Converse. “My compost prayers have been answered because this company makes it easy.”
In addition to their residential efforts, Curbside Compost is focusing on getting cafes, juicers, restaurants, offices, delis, schools, supermarkets and smaller markets, non-profits, and faith-based institutions on board.
“Anywhere there are food scraps, we help implement a program, including cleaning 32-gallon totes for larger waste generators,” says Nick. “And we are happy to report we will be expanding our services to Westchester County this year.”
How it works
With convenience, simplicity, and sanitation in mind, Curbside Compost provides residents with clean containers that can be kept under sinks or in garages and are replaced each week, curbside. The extensive list of recyclables they process includes meat, fish, bones, eggshells, coffee grounds, vegetables, table scraps, and leftovers from food preparation.
There are many reasons you can make a big difference by composting. On the front end, it eliminates the use of environmentally harmful plastic bags often used to collect and dispose of waste. And by diverting waste from landfills and incinerators, you reduce methane, a greenhouse gas that is directly tied to climate change and air pollutants. On the back end, the compost can be used as natural fertilizer, eliminating the need for toxic, artificial fertilizers. More importantly, natural compost increases soil moisture, combats erosion, controls weeds, stabilizes soil pH, and supports essential soil bacteria and minerals, which in turn makes the food we grow and eat more nutritious.
Who’s on board?
Curbside Compost’s expanding list of environmentally conscious partners currently includes Grace Farms Foundation, Winfield Street Italian Deli, Nature’s Temptations, o2 Living, Hapa Food Truck, Matt Dorfman Catering, Keter Environmental Services, Ridgefield Farmers’ Market Co-op, and Grana Pastificio.
“We are grateful to the community for participating and sponsoring us. By placing your food scraps in our pails, together we can continue to grow a healthier planet,” Nick concludes.
To find out more or sign up for service, visit.curbcompost.org.