How does a human-powered compost collection service with a mission to educate the community sound for the ultimate sustainability model?
Meet Soil Cycle
Soil Cycle, Ecology Project International's (EPI) compost collection provider in Missoula, Montana, is "really, really, really awesome. Like, so cool," according to EPI's resident compost aficionado, Mari Houck. Mari is also EPI's Yellowstone Recruitment Coordinator and serves as Secretary on Soil Cycle's Board of Directors. When Mari isn't busy attending gray wolf stakeholder meetings, collecting bison data, or ensuring students are prepared to get in the field, you can find her cycling around town with food scraps in tow.
Soil Cycle is able to run totally zero waste with zero carbon emissions because the food scraps and organic matter are collected by folks on bicycles, rather than vehicles. The compost piles are then flipped, turned, and processed by people with shovels, not machines.
Hauling around coffee grounds, banana peels, and eggshells in inclement mountain west weather may sound less than desirable, but luckily, Soil Cycle relies on a robust volunteer base and enough staff members that are just crazy enough to keep the non-profit's wheels turning.
"Oh, no, it can definitely be brutal. But most of the time, it's a ton of fun. The Soil Cycle community is a blast to be a part of and is such a staple in the Missoula community at large. The blue bicycles with trailers full of food scraps have become recognizable in town, and people get really psyched to see us."
Two Missions Align
Waste reduction and compost production are part of Soil Cycle's mission, but their work doesn't stop there. Much like EPI, Soil Cycle strives to educate and empower people to live more eco-conscious lifestyles. Soil Cycle offers workshops on how to compost at home, ultimately giving people the knowledge and resources they need to no longer rely on compost collection services. The educational workshops truly showcase the organization's priority of creating a culture of environmental care over turning a profit.
"There are a lot of parallel sustainability goals between EPI and Soil Cycle. They're two non-profits just trying to do good for the world, and using education to make that happen."
To date, Soil Cycle has diverted 211,000 lbs of food waste from the landfill. In EPI terms, that's the weight of about 400 leatherback sea turtles! EPI proudly totes Soil Cycle's compost buckets here at our Missoula office, and on course with our Yellowstone students.
Do you feel inspired to start sending fewer turtles of trash to the landfill? Look into signing up for a compost collection service in your own community, or check out Soil Cycle's website for educational resources on how you can start composting at home.