Choosing to compost food scraps instead of send them to the landfill with the regular trash not only brings positive change to the environment, but it’s affordable, convenient and easy to do.
And The Compost Exchange wants to make it even easier.
The business has been processing Ohio’s food scraps for 10 years. Last year, the company collected, recycled and composted 874,000 pounds of food scraps to help prevent greenhouse gasses while improving Ohio’s water, soil and air quality.
Chief Composter and Founder Ray Leard says that through their services, they collect about 16,000 to 18,000 pounds of food scraps a week from 3,000 Central Ohio residents. Their mission is to convert the scraps into high-nutrient compost for local farmers and backyard gardeners.
With The Compost Exchange, Leard wants to do more than provide information on how to compost, but give those interested an easy way to get started. Frequently setting up at farmers markets, “At my composting booth you can drop, swap and then shop, so it’s like a nice little rhyme.”
There are five different composting options available through The Compost Exchange: curbside pick-up, drop-off sites, neighborhood hubs, multi-residential hubs and a citywide composting service.
“90,000 tons [of food scraps] a year go to the landfill, which is not a good thing because it makes methane,” said Leard. “We have all kinds of systems that allow people as a community to do what they should be doing.”
The Compost Exchange has eight drop-off locations in Central Ohio – five collection sites available at local farmers markets on Saturday mornings, and booths stationed at the city’s three Whole Foods Market stores on Sunday afternoons.
The curbside pick-up option is utilized within several dozen neighborhoods and surrounding cities like Worthington, Hilliard and Upper Arlington. Sign-up options are available for individuals, as groups of two to 24 households, or as a neighborhood hub for areas where a high concentration of households are interested in composting.
Once a resident or team signs up, The Compost Exchange delivers a clean, lined five-gallon yellow bucket and an odor/bug proof lid, along with a zero waste tool kit and diagram explaining what can and can’t be composted.
“There’s a company like mine in every major city in the country, none of those other companies have a list of yes and nos on their buckets,” said Leard.
Residents collect scraps for six weeks before buckets are picked up and exchanged.
Leard receives positive feedback from participants who compost in their homes. They report saving money, using fewer trash bags and curbing strong odors coming from their trash.
Over the last four years, The Compost Exchange has teamed up with The Ohio State University’s United Student Government Sustainability Committee to offer a free composting program to 100 off-campus student households.
The 12-week program provides hands-on experience with food waste diversion for students interested in sustainability. In the past, students have collected about six to eight pounds of compost a week per household.
“The secret recipe is to find folks who really want to do it and they will lead the rest,” said Leard “These pilots are designed to be simple and purposeful because people like simple.”
In addition to increasing both the number of residents using their services and pounds of waste composted by 50% in 2022, Leard wants to see more official policy around composting. Leard says eight east coast states currently implement compost plans and The Compost Exchange will lead future policy at the city and state level, “Making it the law that all food scrap will be required to be recycled and not be allowed to enter our landfills.”
For more information about composting, visit www.thecompostexchange.com.