Composting Champion of the Week
10 August 2018
Prioritizing food education, access, and advocacy, Local Matters emerged in 2005 as the brainchild of two activists in an effort to increase healthy food accessibility and improve food systems in communities. In the thirteen years since, the Columbus-based non-profit is now a powerful influence and recognized leader in food activism, making strides in education and accessibility alike.
Local Matters is perhaps best known for their classes and events, where community members of all ages come together to garden, cook, and learn about fresh, healthy food. Given the sheer amount of produce scraps created from these classes & events, composting quickly became a priority for the organization in order to reduce their environmental impact.
Sarah Wharmby, the volunteer and operations manager for Local Matters, spearheaded the organization’s composting program.
Sarah describes how the organization tried a variety of methods to recycle their food scraps over the last few years: they created compost piles in various Local Matters garden locations, but didn’t have the capacity to process the sheer quantity of scraps produced by their classes and workshops. The organization then tried composting with a local company, which later went out of business.
“With the amount of food waste we’re producing, it was a priority for us to find someone that could accommodate our needs.” Sarah explains.
Local Matters began composting with Innovative Organics Recycling in October of 2017 and now are able to divert not only their office food scraps, but their cooking class & workshop food scraps as well.
In addition to hosting classes at the Local Matters kitchen attached to their office on Parsons Ave, the organization also holds these workshops and classes in of all sorts of spaces in Columbus, including church basements, fairgrounds, parks, and gardens.
Given that Local Matters holds health and nutrition highly in their creed, the classes typically feature fruits and vegetables, resulting in many buckets of food scraps.
“We’re at events where we are doing cooking demonstrations, we’re doing cooking classes, we’re producing a lot of waste off-site.” Sarah explains, “We’ve been intentional about bringing buckets or bags that we can fill throughout the event and bring to the office [to compost].”
Though hauling compost from these spaces can sometimes feels like a chore, Sarah says, employees and volunteers of Local Matters continue to happily engage in the process, proving that composting is possible even when working out of many locations.
“People are really amenable to composting,” Sarah boasts of the Local Matters team, “[they are] going out of their way to make sure they are bringing stuff back from events that can be composted.”
Local Matters also offers composting to employees in their Parsons office space. Most recently, they’ve made the transition to compostable plates and napkins, reducing their waste-stream even further.
The Columbus non-profit diverts a whopping average of 160 pounds from the landfill each month, turning their valuable food scraps into compost with Innovative Organics Recycling.
“We’re really lucky that people and organizations like Innovative Organics exist to give us that outlet and reduce our footprint,” Sarah says.
“I think we in particular know the importance of composting because of the work we do and the community gardens we have,” she explains, “we see it more as a cycle and recognizing our part in that.”