If you live in a major city like Austin, composting is easy. You don't have to buy your own bin and spend weekends turning the compost pile; the city will come pick up your compost from a city-issued bin. While Dallas doesn't offer a similar program, one local company is trying to get Dallasites to give their food scraps new life.
Turn Compost started on Earth Day 2018 in Lakewood as a tiny residential pickup program but has since grown to encompass 13 local ZIP codes. For $35 per month, Turn will deliver a five-gallon bucket to your doorstep with instructions on what to compost and what should be thrown away. Once a week, Turn picks up the bin from your doorstep and leaves a clean, sanitized bin in its place. Your compost is then donated to any one of a number of Dallas farms and community gardens: Bonton Farms, Paul Quinn Farm, Farmers Assisting Returning Military (F.A.R.M.), Texas Worm Ranch, Urban Chicken Farm, Chandler Family Farms and more than 12 elementary school and community gardens across DFW.
"Turn Compost was borne from a desire to address food waste needlessly going to our Dallas landfills, as well as a desire to support the farmers and gardeners greatly in need of these valuable food scraps to feed their chickens, pigs and compost piles," says Turn's Kristin Leiber. "From founder Lauren Clarke’s training as both a master gardener and a chef from El Centro, she saw a gap between the disposal of kitchen food waste and the value of this same food waste to garden soil and farms.
"Combining this with the fact that 30 percent of our local landfills are filled with compostable food waste — and the fact that farms and gardens struggle with logistics to pick up, sort and transport community donations — Lauren saw room for someone to step in and help connect the dots," she says.
So what constitutes compost? Many of the kitchen scraps you already throw away: coffee grounds, egg shells, veggie scraps, even old newspapers. Once broken down, those scraps become nutrient-dense and can act as fertilizer when added to soil.
Aside from residential composting, Turn offers commercial options tailored to individual businesses and will even do one-time pickup for events. But for Dallas residents, throwing your food scraps in the trash is free. How will Turn convince Dallasites that the extra money — and effort — is worth it?
"With growing public concern about global warming and the effects of waste on our communities and oceans, we are seeing people step forward now more than ever to spend their disposable income on impact reduction and protecting the environment," Leiber says. "Our customers prioritize our service for a variety of reasons: parents wanting to teach their kids about the food cycle in a hands-on way; out-of-state newcomers looking for a composting program like they had back home; individuals who want to directly support local farms, schools and agriculture workers; apartment dwellers who simply have no space for a compost bin of their own; and even homeowners who tried composting but decided they have a 'black thumb.'"
Leiber knows this program isn't everyone's cup of compost tea, but Turn also offers free drop-off at the White Rock farmers market and also offers perks like vermicompost, honey and compostable leaf bags.
"Customers who find us tend to already value waste reduction, support local farms and want to better the earth, so there is not a lot of convincing needed," Leiber says.
Check out Turn Compost's website for details and to see if the service is available in your neighborhood.
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