Compost NOW Clean

– New Orleans has always been big on food. We have this enormous foodie community that then is generating an
enormous amount of food waste. The city, as of yet, doesn’t
have any infrastructure in place for people to do
something with their food waste to keep it out of the landfill. For me, it was important to fill that gap. I’m what’s called a master composter. It’s very similar to a
master gardener program where you go through multi-month training. Part of the idea is that
you take what you learn and you bring it out into the community. My project, as a master composter, was to actually start doing
food waste collections at libraries. They’re community spaces
but they’re multi-ethnic, multi-generational, it’s
across socio-economic lines. About two years ago, I
approached the New Orleans public library asking
if they would be willing to host drop-off sites so that
people in the neighborhood could have a place to bring
their frozen food waste. The idea is really to
keep community resources in the community so that
community people can use them, in this case, to grow more
healthy food and vegetables. One of the challenges of
a lot of green programs is it tends to appeal
to a certain demographic whereas a library is a space for everyone. For a lot of people who are
doing this for the first time. It’s kind of like an easy
gateway to composting. – Everyone eats food. It’s so simple to just put your
scraps in a different place. Compost, no meat, no bones, no diary, no oily products, please. It’s a fully self-sustaining
cycle and it’s easy. – The thing that impresses
me the most about this place and what Lynne’s doing
with the compost bins is I didn’t understand how many people would participate immediately in compost. – In our first three months,
we collected 4,000 pounds. So, two tons in our first three months. Just at two sites, about
three hours a week. Now, we’ve doubled our number of sites. My goal is to try to get to
at least 20 thousand pounds by the end of the year, so 10 tons. – I would like to see
more people participating. I would like to see city support. I would like to see Lynne’s program expand into every neighborhood. But in order to support
that kind of a program and that sort of expansion, there needs to be a lot more resources. – The challenge is here at Rosa Keller, we’re collecting maybe 400 pounds a week. Most community gardens,
which are volunteer driven, just don’t have the capacity
to process 400 pounds of food scraps every single week. We need a place to host it. You need someone to reliably staff it because, of course, we’re
talking about food waste which does start smelling. Probably the thing that stands
out the most is the week when the head of the city’s
sanitation department came to drop off her food
waste at Alvar Library. She is very interested in composting and wants to see something
happen in New Orleans. Because as of yet there
isn’t, she came to my program to drop off her food waste. That really kind of cracked me up and also just underlined
how important it is. Community composting
projects are something that anyone can do anywhere. If we just waited for our government to get around to doing
it, it might take years. It literally took, I think,
30 years for the city of New York to start a pilot project. The thing is, we don’t have anymore time. We can’t wait for someone else to do it. It’s just so important that
each of us does what we can.

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