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The Path Ahead: Reflections on 2018 and a look at 2019

As years end and new ones begin, we often find ourselves in a fairly reflective place. We’d like to take a moment to reflect on 2018 and share with you some of our plans for 2019.

As anyone who has started an organization themself will know, this journey comes with lots of highs, lots of lows, and very little in between. 2018 was no different for us. We had lots of success and learned from lots of failures. That’s just the way things go! We’d like to share some of our successes with you, and the things that we are a looking back on as a team with our heads held high as 2018 has come to a close!

By the numbers:

  • We now serve over 100 clients across Northeast Ohio

  • We are collecting and diverting over 32,000 pounds of food scraps each week from landfills as of December, 2018. This is an increase from 18,000 pounds per week just a year earlier.  

  • We launched our Community Supported Composting program and have over 80 active members!

  • We fully transitioned away from plastics and now only use compostable bags and liners.

  • Inside Baseball Disclosure: We successfully lobbied the Ohio EPA to adopt a rule change to support community composting efforts like ours. Each parcel in Ohio can now have up to 500 square feet of active compost at any one time, an increase of 200 square feet!

What these numbers don’t capture is the massive growth we’ve made internally as an organization. We’ve made huge strides in process improvement, operational sophistication, and communications. As a team, we read the book Traction, by Gino Wickman (highly recommended!) and have put together clear, measurable, and time-bound goals for all members of our team. These goals are rooted in core company values that are informed by our mission and vision as an organization. These efforts have made the growth we have experienced, and plan to experience in the future, possible in the first place. We now have a road map, process indicators, and are running more like a fine-tuned machine than ever before.

Photo from ILSR

Photo from ILSR

It’s because of this progress that we are so excited to share with you some of our goals for the new year. 2019 is going to make the progress we made in 2018 look like a snail’s pace. Here is some of what’s in store:

  • Residential Composting is coming to Cleveland in the Summer of 2019!

    • This subscription service will bring the services our business and organizational partners have enjoyed for years to residents.

      • If you haven’t yet completed out survey, please do so HERE!

    • We will have two subscription options: To-your-door weekly pick up and multiple community-based drop-off locations.

      • If you know of a great location for a drop point in your community, let us know!

      • Our existing Community Supported Composting membership payment option has also been upgraded to make joining the fight against food waste easier. Now, you can elect a monthly subscription option rather than the one-time annual payment option.

Garbage to Garden in Portland, Maine: Community Compost Drop Site!

Garbage to Garden in Portland, Maine: Community Compost Drop Site!

  • New Product Launch. We have spent the past year improving and refining our soil blends to better serve you. We are thrilled to be launching our new product line: ‘tilth’. Tilth will provide the home gardener, urban farmer, and houseplant enthusiast with the highest quality planting mediums available, each with a base of high-quality compost created from the food waste we collect and divert from landfills.

    • Our first products will include:

      • Potting Mix: Sprout

      • Compost: Grow

      • Mulch: Base

    • More details coming soon!

      • Tell us where you get your soil blends: online, retail, home and garden stores? We want to put our products where you can access them! Let us know in the comments below!

  • We are planning to triple the number of businesses and organizations we serve so if your place of work wants to join the fight against food waste, reach out today!

  • We are going to formally become a B-Corp.

    • We got into this business to show that social enterprises can make a meaningful impact on a social ill and make some money while doing it. As we continue to grow we want to ensure that we can invest in the things that keep people and the planet central to our mission.

  • Carbon Neutrality Commitment.

    • We are committing ourselves to being at worst carbon neutral and at best, carbon negative by the end of 2019. This means all emissions we produce through daily operations will be offset or avoided in some way.

Like we said, there is a lot we have in store for you this year. We hope you will stick around and join us for the journey. We are so excited about what the future holds and hope you are too!

We would also like to thank each and every one of our clients, advisers, and families.

Here is to 2019!


Thanksgiving, Not Thanks Wasting

Thanksgiving is a holiday centered around food, mounds and mounds of food! Whether you are celebrating with family, loved ones, at home or in a restaurant you undoubtedly will be having your fill of some of your favorite fall foods.

This holiday, filled with its generally seasonal ingredients; root vegetables, gourdes, and brassicas connect us to a time and place at the dinner table. What we gain in seasonality we often lose in perspective. Thanksgiving, a holiday of harvest, abundance and more-often-than-not, gluttony can blind us to the sad state of affairs our food system is in.

This Thanksgiving one in six people across the United States face hunger and in Northeast Ohio 20% of children live in a food insecure household.   We may sound like a broken record but these facts remain at the same time that our nation is literally throwing away as much as 40% of all the food we grow. So what do we do in light of these circumstances?

For one, you can make an effort to support those organizations working to improve food security across our city. The Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland is a fantastic resources with a number of amazing programs that advance food security. One program we are particularly excited about is their forthcoming Food Rescue program which will capture perfectly edible food and direct it to their network of food pantries for those in need. Other organizations whose praise we cannot sing loudly enough are:

·         Catholic Charities Services of Cuyahoga County

·         The Center for Children and Families

·         City Fresh

·         Cleveland Food Not Bombs

·         Perfectly Imperfect

·         Stone Soup Cleveland

·         St. Luke’s Episcopal

·         West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church

Many of the organizations above, notably Cleveland Food Not Bombs, Perfectly Imperfect, Stone Soup, St. Luke’s and West Shore UUC in addition to their efforts of advancing food security are also taking their work a step further and diverting all their scraps from landfills by partnering with us through our collections services. These organizations are deeply committed to combating hunger in the here and now while simultaneously creating the conditions to fully eradicate it.

Today, however, I want to invite you to look into a specific resource in advance of your Thanksgiving meal. If you are anything like me or the family I grew up in, the day before Thanksgiving as well as the day-of Thanksgiving are some of the best days of the year. You cloister yourself in a kitchen, cook nostalgic foods with loved ones, and smell all the smells you haven’t smelled in almost a year. (Sidebar: why do we only eat turkey and stuffing around Thanksgiving? I feel that this needs to change urgently… its so good!) One inevitable outcome of this work is that all-too-often we overcook, we make way too much food for not nearly enough people, and before you tell me ‘but, Dan, the leftovers as the best part about Thanksgiving!’ I won’t argue that. Instead, I will point to some numbers. For all those leftovers we plan on eating, a lot of them end up in the back of our refrigerator uneaten and then pitched days later. An estimated $277 million worth of turkey, for example, ends up in the trash after Thanksgiving. All said, we will waste about 172 million pounds of turkey, 14 million pounds of dinner rolls, 29 million pounds of vegetables, 30 million pounds of gravy, 40 million pounds of mashed potatoes, 35 million pound of cranberry sauce and 38 million pounds of stuffing… on Thanksgiving alone!

Thankgivinginfographic_111716.jpg

 

I say this not to shame you or make you feel bad. This problem is avoidable with the right planning which is why I want to introduce to you the Guestimator! This amazing tool developed by the team at Save The Food will help you in your quest for minimizing food waste at Thanksgiving, simply enter the number of small, average, and big eaters you expect to be feeding, the number of leftovers you want – because lets be honest, leftovers are almost even better than the Thanksgiving meal itself – if any, the kind of menu you plan to make – classic, veggie focused, or a mixed bag, and BOOM, it generates exactly how many servings you will need to satisfy your Thanksgiving needs!

 

So yeah, eat until your hearts content, enjoy your food, because you should, just don’t waste it. If you do have left overs, eat them, and if you can’t pop by our facility and have the composted.