Science, Tech & Environment

Boston man launches urban composting program

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Andy Brooks prepares for a day of kitchen scrap collection. (Photo by Alicia Prewett)

Story by Living on Earth. Listen to audio above for full interview.

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Americans throw away 68 billion pounds of food each year, most of which winds up in landfills.

Some Massachusetts residents are working on a way to make composting more feasible for city dwellers. Catherine Iagnemma is among them.

Iagnemma keeps a five gallon bucket in her kitchen. Into the bucket goes food scraps and other waste that might otherwise wind up in the trash.

"If I had to go and start up a compost bin in my backyard, I don’t know if I would do it, or I don’t know if I would know how to do it," she said.

No, she has another method for achieving similar results, thanks to Andy Brooks. Brooks founded Bootstrap Compost. Brooks picks up waste like Iagnemma's and then brings it to a local farm for composting.

Check out photos of Bootstrap Compost.

"Through composting our material, we are collectively improving our community," Brooks said.

The whole company got started after Brooks struggled to find a job. He uses a bike with a custom trailer to collect the food scraps.

Brooks says he has dozens of customers.

Each one gets a bucket of fresh compost — as they need it — once they've been contributing food scraps for 15 weeks.

A weekly pickup costs $32 a month, biweekly $18, and a once a month visit is $10.

"When you throw out your banana peels into the trash, that to me is insulting to all the resources that went into growing those things initially," Brooks said. "The end product is just treated like refuse, but it shouldn’t be."

Iagnemma, his customer, is picking up that mindset.

"You really think about where your food is going, and especially on trash day, I’ll look at people’s trash and say is this one family?" she said.

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Hosted by Steve Curwood, "Living on Earth" is an award-winning environmental news program that delves into the leading issues affecting the world we inhabit. 

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