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When Flatness Creates Effervescence

There’s no denying, a Food Revolution is taking place in America. Consumers are shunning unhealthy food and beverage choices and incorporating better ones into their diet. How so? With cold-pressed juice, the organic food boom, the slow food movement, urban farming, beekeeping, community activists, environmental stewards, authors and more have changed how people eat in recent years.

As you may have heard, these changes in our culture have directly affected the carbonated, soft drink beverage industry too. Simply put, they’re losing the market share battle and falling flat.

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As a non-soda drinker myself, I normally could care less about what happens in the soda business. Yet, I do know how beneficial not drinking soda can be for overall health.

Recently, I attended a half-day corporate training session with more than three dozen adults. They catered it with assorted convenience breakfast choices, coffee, pasteurized packaged juices, and various sodas. (Everything was offered buffet style at no additional cost.)

Surprisingly, at the end of the day, I noticed only a handful of empty soda cans remaining in the room. I scanned all the tables quickly to see mostly drained bottled water containers instead.

The takeaway? Americans might actually be realizing soda isn’t their best drink choice. Such bubbly news.

A Radical American Road Trip

In the summer of 2014, thanks to social media, I had the chance to learn about Rob Greenfield and his #donatenotdump campaign designed to reduce food waste in Wisconsin. During Rob’s visit to Milwaukee, I got involved with his mission determined to spread his message to others (see Adventures Of A Dumpster Diver for details.)

Since then, Rob has continued using attention grabbing tactics to bring awareness to the importance of reducing food waste, etc. so we all can become better environmental stewards.

This past month, Rob launched a new paperback book, titled Dude Making a Difference: Bamboo Bikes, Dumpster Dives, and Other Extreme Adventures Across America. In it, Rob recounts his sustainability focused road trip from the summer of 2013 and the measures he took along the way to create zero waste, save water, promote the importance of eating local and more.

Image-front-cover_coverbookpageSo why would anyone willingly battle extreme heat, pesky mosquitos, relentless winds, loneliness, potential injury/illness, and beyond, all on their own volition ? Because our planet needs healing help, and Rob wanted to be the steward that generated a sense of urgency in others to take action today to make it better.

During Rob’s journey, he relied upon Brent, a bicycling co-pilot dedicated to his mission as a photographer, traveling companion and friend. Given the extreme nature of the project, Brent must have been a true adventurer to stick along for the ride! Thanks for being a behind-the-scenes hero Brent.

Throughout the book, Rob provides stories of the people he met, the kindnesses they provided to help him along the way, the fonder appreciation he acquired for simple things like warm sunshine and refreshing cold water, but most importantly, Rob offers substantial advice about the countless ways each of us can make small changes in our daily lives so we can live more sustainably.

So, if you’ve never composted a banana peel, shut off your water faucet while brushing your teeth, broken bread with a stranger (plucked from a dumpster no less), or eaten fresh vegetables acquired from your local farmers market, then you’ll want to pick up his book and learn why doing any or all of these things is important. Mother Earth, and future generations will thank you.

One Man’s Trash

Milwaukee Magazine ran a composting article in their June, 2015 issue focusing on a South Side alderman that wants to bring composting to an alley near you.

0615_webRead more about how Milwaukee may become more sustainable thanks to Mr. Zielinski’s upcoming pilot program here: One Man’s Trash. Our Compost Express customers, advocates and composting enthusiasts will fully understand how his efforts will reduce food waste and benefit our community. Thanks Tim McCormick for your interest and mentioning Compost Express!

Patience…Rewarded!

We’re excited to announce, Bluemels Garden and Landscape Center in Greenfield, Harrys Ace in Franklin, and Schuler Gardens in Milwaukee now carry our finished compost in bags. (Bluemels also has our worm castings in stock.) Drop by these retail locations soon and pick up some of our locally made, organic fertilizer. Your garden, potted plants, and landscape will thank us. We promise.

Organic Compost

Packaged Compost Prototype

How To Start A Compost Revolution

Are you looking to be more sustainable? Do you want others to help with your efforts? Would you consider composting as one way to do it? How about for an entire college campus?

Compost Express recently received a tweet asking how to do just that.

How exciting! We have raised a generation of young adults that are now actively trying to be better environmental stewards. Impressive!

Where to begin? Well, Emily has taken a step in the right direction simply by asking.

If you want to start a composting revolution in your community, on campus, at work, or elsewhere, you need to work out a few details in advance. They include:

  1. A starting point. Is this your back yard, outside a dining hall, a cafeteria, as part of a community garden, or deposited at a composting facility?
  2. Do you need approval from a business owner, an administrative contact, a governmental entity, or just yourself?
  3. Can you train participants which food waste items are acceptable and which to avoid?
  4. If you were to start an organics waste management program tomorrow, will the waste be removed on a regular basis by a private contractor, or be composted on site in an appropriate location that’s easily accessible?
  5. Who will manage the pile(s) over time and where will the finished compost be used?

If these steps have gotten you thinking, we may be able to help. Reach out via email, or connect with us on social media and let’s talk about it to see how we can help you get started.

America’s Wasteland

If you’ve ever paid a visit to a school cafeteria, you’ll find out quickly how much waste students generate daily. It’s extensive. Milk cartons, straws, plastic baggies, fruit cups, juice pouches, snack bags, pudding pouches and food waste. Lots of food waste (spoiler alert: the majority of children still just want cookies and junk food, not fresh fruit and vegetables).

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And while Compost Express has been dedicated to educating residential home owners, businesses, and the general public about the benefits of composting, it’s equally important we teach our children as well. Why? Because they need to learn its value too.

With that said, our Chief Composting Officer is working diligently to start a school composting initiative designed to reduce food waste.

Stay tuned. Hoping to make a difference soon.

An Appealing Proposition

Love bananas? How about nuts and other raw fruits combined into a crunchy, nutty, organic snack food?

Welcome to the world of Gorilly Goods. Recently, the Gorilly Goods owners reached out to Compost Express with an interesting proposition. As their product is made with a hefty dose of organic bananas, they continually have a plethora of banana peel waste. To solve their waste problem, they asked if we’d be interested in composting the peels.

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Last I checked though, bananas delivered from Ecuador arrive whole and require peeling for consumption or baking. Hence a proposition was generated. Not only did they want me to whisk away their peels, they also asked if I might be interested in helping during production by peeling those bananas too.

What better way to learn more about the story behind their snack, get to know their mission, and find out more about their product (and their upcoming two NEW varieties, Chocolate and Savory) then by spending a few hours chatting with the owners while peeling?

So, what did I learn during my visit? Three things stood out:

1. Cleanliness is essential. All prep work, production time, and post clean up was completed using thorough sanitation methods.

2. Raw, organic, dehydrated food retains almost all of the nutritional content of food. An impressive alternative to processed food and so good for you!

3. The use of coconut nectar in their product line provides a raw, enzymatically alive sweetener that is far superior to fructose based, artificial counterparts.  

At the end of the day, I truly gained a firmer appreciation for their raw fruit and nut “things” and know I’m ready for another taste of one in the near future!

Lessons Learned During A Daily Grind

As you may know, I took on the role of Chief Composting Officer this past spring when I launched Compost Express, Greater Milwaukee’s first curbside compost pick up service.

Making compost successfully requires a few simple ingredients. Carbon-rich and nitrogen-rich organics, air and water. Oh, and of course time. Lots of it so mother nature can break the materials down to make healthy soil. Carbon materials (or browns) like leaves, need to be shredded first so that they degrade more quickly once in the pile (the same is true of nitrogen components).

Yesterday, as I was mulching leaves with my leaf blower/mulcher/vacuum, I discovered clumped leaves don’t get sucked into the unit quickly. You actually have to move the leaves around in the grass, aerate them, and spread them thin so the vacuum unit can grab small handfuls of dry leaves to do its job.

Upon reflection, I discovered that the shredding leaves process can actually be compared to life itself. When we take on too much, over burden ourselves with too many tasks or responsibilities, we often find we’re not terribly focused. We don’t accomplish as much as we could if we just did things in tiny, focused increments. (In fact, multi-tasking has been shown to be counterproductive, even if we all believe we’re doing more in less time.) Why? Because we’re not doing small things and giving it our full attention. If we were, we’d be much more effective and results driven.

Do yourself a favor and eliminate distractions, focus solely on each activity, and limit how much time you devote to each item on your to-do list. My belief is, the results will surprise you.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.