Last week I asked whether small-scale compost collectors could circumvent NIMBYs and create a viable, grassroots industry as an alternative to huge, centralized composting operations. I had already written about a "compost shuttle" service here in North Carolina, and elsewhere on the site we've covered bike-based compost collection in New York and a similar composting operation in St. Paul, Minnesota.
DIY Ethic Makes for Thriving Businesses
Now a few more have come across my radar, including the biodiesel-powered Mobile Composting Service in
Orange County, CA, and the bike- and truck-collection combo approach of Bootstrap Compost in Greater Boston.
As this article about Andy Brooks of Bootstrap Compost over at BostInno shows, there is a powerful DIY ethic at work in these businesses that could be a lesson for a broader, low-tech surge of sustainable small businesses as the mainstream economy continues to offer little hope of delivering real well-being:
Last holiday season, Brooks was visiting his family in Vermont and was impressed with his sister’s compost service. “I was struck by the idea. It was really novel,” says Brooks, who had been out of work for two years. “I was at my wit’s end.”
So, he decided to bring a compost service to Boston. “On New Year’s Day 2011, I made a bunch of flyers and posted them around Jamaica Plain,” says Brooks. “It really got things rolling.” Subscribers signed up faster than you can say “biodegradable,” and Brooks was traveling all over greater Boston to pick up people’s trash… on foot.
Brooks eventually invested in a bike and trailer, and then a truck, but what's interesting to me here is that people are creating viable small businesses with incredibly low overheads, a sense of mission, and a rough and ready approach to marketing and branding that requires little more than passion, attitude and a connection with your community.
Immediate Scalability Means Growth of an Industry
The observant among you will note that the article states Brooks was inspired by his sisters' mobile composting service in Vermont, which means there's at least one other business out there. No word of the name in the article, but a quick Google search brings up Earth Girl Composting in Burlington, VT which may or may not be the business that inspired Mr. Brooks. But either way, it's clear that this is a business model that is almost immediately scalable to other communities.
This is just one more example of the Plenitude Economy at work. What other small-scale composters do we need to be aware of, and are there other fledgling industries adopting a similar model?
Share your leads and experiences in the comments below.