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CompostNow launches Charleston home pick-up service today, April 1

Soil slingers

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April is Eat Local Month in Charleston, Lowcountry Local First's annual mission to focus attention on local farms, restaurants, and homegrown producers. It's a time to pause before purchase: Springbok for that cold brew? Veggie Bin for that produce? Semilla for that burrito?

This year, discerning denizens can take their local practices a step further. Starting today, CompostNow — a company with commercial and residential composting existing operations in Georgia and N.C. — launches their home collection service in Charleston. For $29 a month ($19 a month for every other week service), CompostNow will pick up your allotted bin full of food waste each week, taking it to the county Bees Ferry composting facility.

"Bees Ferry does the composting, we just dump it and it takes 60-90 days to break down and we buy it back and you earn 50 percent of the waste back," says Sarah Roza, CompostNow's community growth manager."We do all the dirty work."

CompostNow launched their commercial service in the area this past October. They took over Food Waste Disposal, a local commercial compostable hauling service, and shortly after they joined forces with Compost Rangers (of which Roza was a member), a small-scale composting operation that organized drop-off locations for residents to take their food waste.



Roza says the CompostNow residential branch will service downtown, as far north as the I-526 corridor, north to the IOP connector in Mt. Pleasant; and  into James Island, Johns Island, Folly, and Sullivan's. "We have a lot of interest," says Roza. "And we know exactly the end product of waste — it's composted and turned into this nutrient- rich soil."

Unlike recycling, composting is an eco endeavor that allows participants to see — and taste — results in a relatively short period of time, in contrast with larger- scale recycling efforts. Last month, the Post and Courier reported that a month's worth of recycling was just sitting at the Bees Ferry landfill with no certain fate. "That's a crappy feeling," says Roza. "Composting is full circle."

CompostNow's residential clients will be able to use their nutrient-rich soil for their own gardens. For the commercial clients, "It's totally up to them where they put it, when they'll use it," says Roza. "We'll deliver it by the truckload, as long as it's being used by the community to grow healthy food."

The company currently partners with "around 50" restaurants like Gnome Cafe, Harbinger, and Verde, plus Charleston County schools and the S.C. Aquarium. Since starting with CompostNow in October, Verde has diverted "over 14,000 pounds of food waste from the landfill."

These bigger clients' soil can be donated to CompostNow's four community partners: Charleston Parks Conservancy, Green Heart Project, College of Charleston Campus Gardens, and Earth Heart Growers.

The overarching mission of CompostNow is to "starve landfills and build healthy soils." While the Bees Ferry composting facility has been actively composting food waste since 2009, most of the soil was being purchased by landscaping companies.

"We want to change that narrative," says Roza, "and make sure the compost that is being created is going back to local gardens and not corporate companies, to a local person who needs it. The Parks Conservancy rents out garden beds for communities to use so they put it in garden beds to grow healthy vegetables."

If you're interested in building healthy soils, garden beds, and growing food in your (or the community's) backyard, learn more at compostnow.org and sign up for your bin today.

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