By Sheree Stubblefield
This year, the CY 4 Miler has decided to go green. What better way to do that than to partner with the greenest folks we know, Compost Fairy? They are passionate people starting a compost revolution. Together, we plan to make our race zero waste. It’s not just about the present CY but also about the future. We asked them a few questions about what this partnership means to them and how we can work together to create a greener Memphis.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves and your role at Compost Fairy.
Mike: I’m Mike Larrivee the Executive Director and founder of Compost Fairy. I do a little bit of everything, but primarily I make compost. I preach the gospel of organics management as good stewardship, find new places to pick up compostable material (homes and businesses) and new places to put compost (farms and landscapes).
Caroline: I’m Caroline Norris, Board President of Compost Fairy.
Tell us a little about Compost Fairy?
Mike: We’ve been a NonProfit since October 2017 and before that we were a program of the CYCA. I became the full time director this month, so for a year and a half we were a 100% volunteer driven organization. Our core group of directors has dedicated thousand of hours of their time and countless personal resources to grow our programs into what they are today. We have collections programs in residential areas all over the city, as well as restaurants, office buildings and large corporate campuses. We recently signed contracts with the University of Memphis and Indigo Ag.
We have free community drop offs at farmers markets aimed at providing access to underserved communities that don’t have financial resources to pay for our services. We are sustained by our services revenue at this point, so if you are able, we ask that you donate to Compost Fairy and help us to continue to offer composting pickup to those communities.
We support urban agriculture and are being very intentional in developing partnerships with local growers to create a circular food production economy. There are farms in the city that have eliminated synthetic inputs by using our products. That’s real change, and it puts so much power back in the hands of the people we trust to grow our food locally.
We do lots of speaking engagements and demos. We believe that education & outreach drive culture change needed for all our neighbors to understand the value of what we do, which in turn increases our diversion rates.
We’re also moving into research and development. There are more compostable products coming onto the market than qualified organizations capable of testing them. We’d like to change that and help our global economy move further away for plastic dependency.
Caroline: Our mission is to divert waste from the landfill. That may seem silly – like, isn’t that where it’s supposed to go? But NO! It doesn’t have to be that way. Just like glass, cardboard, & aluminum can be recycled, food can, too! That’s composting. And, what’s really crazy is that when your veggie scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, etc. go to the landfill, they just compost there. It actually breaks down into a toxic mess that releases a huge amount of methane – you know, the really ugly greenhouse gas, as well as affect our groundwater. So, we just make sure that your food & organic material breaks down the way nature intended, creating beautiful, healthy, soil!
Tell us about your partnership with the CY 4 Miler this year.
Mike: We’re providing consulting and physical capacity to make the Four Miler as close to a Zero Waste To Landfill Event as possible. CYCA is dedicated to leading the community as an environmentally responsible organization, and we’re happy to be in a place where we are able to support that initiative.
How hard is it for a race or event to be waste-friendly?
Mike: It’s easier than dealing with the consequences for generations of disposable consumer economics. Supporting responsible waste management efforts removes nearly all of the external costs associated with the poor waste management practice of landfilling which has been the status quo for decades. It may cost slightly more now to hire the Compost Fairy to provide that kind of agency than it does to hire a roll off dumpster, but landfilling organic waste is creating a debt that will be passed on to our kids and grandkids. It also misses an opportunity to put that carbon source back into our compromised soils and help to counter the effects of climate change. We can fix those global scale issues we hear so much about one bucket at a time.
Caroline: It’s really about making intentional decisions to be a positive impact. That’s it! Be thoughtful. Plan. Bring along folks who want to do the same to spread the work load. It is really that simple. Anything that’s worth doing isn’t easy but it sure doesn’t have to be hard & its absolutely worth it.
What are some composting/landfill reduction tips for races?
Mike: Plastic bottles are dumb. Provide water stations and encourage people to bring refillable durable water bottles. Buy food from local restaurants that practice environmental responsible management and source their food from local growers. Project Green Fork is a program that makes it easy for people to make responsible choices in dining out and to support responsible restaurants.
What compost tips can you give readers?
Mike: Hire the Compost Fairy. It’s easier to compost at scale like we do and it creates a much more valuable finished product. And we can compost food products that would turn a backyard operation into a rat farm. That being said, we support any effort that diverts food waste from the landfill and are happy to consult with individuals that are interested in maintaining a home compost system.
Compost Fairy offer residential and commercial composting services at any scale, consulting, Zero Waste events services, and finished compost products by the bag or cubic yard. Click here to volunteer with Compost Fairy at the 2019 CY 4 Miler!