Zero To Go Transitions Residential Compost Pickup To Community Compost Company (CCC)

Photo Credit: Zero To Go

Photo Credit: Zero To Go

Zero To Go (ZTG), an education-based waste management company focused on composting and recycling, was the first to offer residential pickup of food waste in Beacon in order to keep it from landfills, and eventual methane gas production. After years of operating food composting pickup service in Beacon, Zero To Go has transitioned its Beacon Compost Residential and Farmers Market Collection Program to Community Compost Company (CCC), a New Paltz-based company that is currently servicing several Beacon businesses, according to Zero To Go’s soon-to-be sole owner, Atticus Lanigan. “We are very excited about this,” said Atticus in a letter to Beacon Residential Compost customers, and proceeded to list the reasons:

  • CCC pioneered the Table to Farm compost collection service in the Hudson Valley and is experienced handling residential and commercial collection.

  • CCC is a New York State certified woman-owned business based in the Hudson Valley.

  • CCC is reliable, has great people. and follows the "4P" ethos (People, Planet, Place and Profit).

  • CCC processes the scraps they collect into organic soil amendments on farms in the Hudson Valley, and is already composting the food scraps from ZTG events and collection.

Zero To Go will continue to service events, and “can be hired to handle waste at events in a responsible way,” said Atticus.

Why Does Methane Gas From Food Matter?

If you’ve never experienced methane gas production, try leaving a smoothie in your car in a closed coffee mug for three weeks, and then open it in your kitchen. Spoiler alert: There is so much pressure built up inside of the closed cup from the food rot process, the top will shoot off and hit anything across the room, cracking your plastic water filter container. Some people build potato guns. You could easily build a smoothie gun with yogurt, bananas and strawberries with minimal effort, just some time.

The History Of Zero To Go

Zero To Go was best known for being hired to manage trash/recycling/food waste at events, and branched into servicing businesses in Beacon by picking up their food waste. Zero To Go, founded by Sarah Womer, then launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 (see this interview with Sarah in this Tin Shingle Training TuneUp webinar on how she did that), to start their residential food pickup program, originally powered by people on bikes.

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Fast-forward years and hours of work later, Sarah took a full time job at Riverkeeper, and Atticus Lanigan came in to manage the company. In addition to raising two children, Atticus has a background in Sociology and Urban Planning, and also works for Dutchess Outreach, an organization fighting food insecurity in Dutchess County that offers a hot meals program (formerly known as a “soup kitchen”).

Says Sarah when A Little Beacon Blog reached out for comment: “Atticus and I put in huge numbers of hours and sacrificed a lot of our own time to run and grow this company (like any start-up owners do)! It's been a real labor of love. It feels good to see the compost program take flight under new ownership - if we have a strong, visible, affordable compost program in town, it's something to be very proud of!”

Today, Atticus continues her work for Dutchess Outreach, and officially moves into the sole owner role of Zero To Go, which will specialize in event waste management. Sarah works in Harlem at a sustainability consulting firm. Both are always moving and shaking in the world of waste management and their commitment to educating about it. They will be contributing in other areas, so keep your eyes peeled.

Plastic Bags Out Of Food Compositing

Plastics bags are leaving the Hudson Valley (see press release about Governor Cuomo banning single-use plastic bags from New York State), including the food compositing arena. Said Atticus to prep customers about plastic bags: “CCC will not be accepting compostable plastics in the buckets, which includes compostable bags. This will be the biggest change as many of you are using compostable plastic bags in the process of getting your food scraps out to your buckets.”

Atticus began preparing Zero To Go customers for a plastic bag transition: “Ultimately, the use of bio-plastics is not ideal. As lawmakers work to deal with the overwhelming issue of garbage, many are seeking the abandonment of all single-use plastics and plastics in general. By drawing ourselves away from the use of it, we will be ahead of the curve.”

SIDE NOTE: Food Rot Container Tip

Fortunately, my compost food collection container is in a very pretty white jar from Pottery Barn, and my food collection system does not involve a plastic bag. The container is a porcelain flour jar that I repurposed to be a food compost container with a rubber-sealed lid. You could also find such a jar at Utensil or maybe even Raven Rose in Beacon. I just walk this pretty pot of rot to my compost bucket outside on my back porch, and that’s it. Happy to not have to wean myself off of a plastic bag! Am currently working on weaning myself off of Ziploc baggies.

To sign up for residential food pickup from Community Compost Company, click here. It’s about $32/month for weekly pickup, and lower rates are available for fewer pickups.

Giant Yellow Marker Collection Recycling Box At South Avenue and Sargent Elementary Schools

Photo Credit: South Avenue Elementary School

Photo Credit: South Avenue Elementary School

“Penny,” the marker collection box at Sargent Elementary.  Photo Credit: Anna Sullivan Youatt

“Penny,” the marker collection box at Sargent Elementary.
Photo Credit: Anna Sullivan Youatt

With recycling markets tanking everywhere (see New York Times article “As Costs Skyrocket, More U.S. Cities Stop Recycling”) now that China is not buying most of the recycling it used to - especially from the United States - it’s clear that it’s becoming harder to recycle, and waste has been building up more than we realized.

Crayola Launches Fun Marker Collection Recycling Bins

What is catching on, therefore, is increased awareness of ways people can tweak the small stuff in their lives to get rid of stuff without throwing it into the trash. Crayola offers an initiative for schools looking to reduce waste, called ColorCycle, and information can be found here. Says South Avenue Elementary’s Principal Laura Cahill: “The South Avenue PTA started the color box in conjunction with Crayola ColorCycle, and we are encouraging families to send in their old markers throughout the year. We also put markers in here at school as they get used up during class.”

Says Ryan Green, Vice President of South Avenue’s PTA: “Any kind of marker can be collected from any brand. Dry-erase, permanent, doesn't matter. You can send them to school with your kids, and teachers send the little messengers to dump the markers into the tube.”

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How To Contain The Dead Markers Before Depositing Into Marker Collection Box

If you’re in a house that has a high marker-loss count, where separated tops and dried-out bodies are found scattered on the floor and in the couch, they now have a place to rest and find a second life. If you don’t have a kid at South Avenue, consider setting aside your markers for a friend who does.

To get into the habit of keeping trashed markers out of the regular trash can, simply designate a pretty box or container in your home, and collect the markers over time. I just stepped on a dead blue dry-erase marker last night. Top on the floor, body on the desk. Dried out and done.

Also, Bottles and Cans Collections For Recycling And Fundraising

The South Avenue PTA, and several other PTA/Os at other schools, also have Bottle and Can Collection points where you can give the school your bottles and cans instead of putting them into your big orange-top recycling bin. It has been announced by recycling professionals at Beacon City Council meetings that glass collection is becoming difficult to sort through. Broken glass contaminates the recycling collection at large, and can make it so that big batches of waste (aka recycling materials) are no longer eligible to be recycled.

Trash Cans Replaced On Main Street For Better Containment - At No Cost To City

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As Beacon increases in popularity as a tourist destination as well as a lifestyle change destination, away from the big city - or just by people relocating here for job opportunities - trash disposal needs also change. Two major shifts have happened that triggered a metal trash can swap-out on Main Street:

  • Overflowing Trash: Residents have complained of trash overflowing from metal trash cans on Main Street after regular weekends, three-day holiday weekends, or weekends that have special public events.

  • Recycling: The crash of the recycling market has rocked recycling collection across many communities in the United States. In short, most of the recycling isn’t getting recycled because China, who buys most of the world’s recycling, has tightened its restrictions on what it will accept. Most recycling sent to China is dirty, as in, coated in food, contaminated with non-recyclable objects (like plastic bottle caps not screwed onto a bottle - who knew?!) or is wet paper (only dry, non-shredded paper is accepted - nothing smaller than 6” x 6” actually, according to Beacon’s recycling processing center).

  • Recycling Must Be Clean: What came out of the 2018 City Council Meeting discovery session with the facility who processes our recycling, is that dirty recycling does not get recycled. If you throw in a plastic container coated with food: it won’t get rinsed at the recycling center. If you throw in straight up food, or other items that are not part of the Single Stream, you are contaminating the recycling collection, and the haul cannot be used. This makes recycling on Main Street pretty useless, being that most people throw in food containers that have food on or in them, and items that are not recyclable at all.

City Council Agrees To Larger Hole At Top Of Trash Cans

The Beacon City Council, which consists of four representatives (called Council People) from each area of the City, as well as a Member-At-Large, the Mayor, the City Administrator, and the City’s Attorney, all consider many details about how the City of Beacon functions. They even think about the design of the trash cans. At one point years ago, two holes were considered to help with trash: a small one for recycling (presumably cups and other small objects), and trash. But not too large, so as to guard against residents of nearby apartments putting their household trash into the public containers, as recalled by Mayor Casale during a City Council meeting.

Trash Cans Replaced At No Cost To The City

During the May 29, 2018 City Council Workshop meeting during which Royal Carting, the City’s contracted trash collection company, presented their proposed budget for a new contract, Royal Carting’s presenting attorney, James Constantino, suggested a replacement of the cans at no cost to the City. “The designs of the cans are not accommodating or giving capacity. We have agreed with the Highway Superintendent for a new can… I can assure you the Mayor has been very clear that he wants the trash cans maintained, and doesn't want to see litter.”

Beacon’s City Administrator confirmed with A Little Beacon Blog in August 2018 that the City was moving forward with the replacement of the cans. By January 2019, the new trash cans lined Main Street.