Brosowsky remembers the date when he had his eureka moment about composting. On March 21, 2010, he was in Milwaukee at Growing Power, one of the country’s most successful urban farms, where he hoped to learn enough to start his own rooftop garden in Washington. On a compost run — a trip to a bakery, a cafe and several other locations to pick up food scraps — he realized just how inefficient it was for the farmer to drive from place to place, often waiting an hour or more between pickups. Suddenly, he had an idea: Farms need materials to produce compost. And people need stuff picked up. Putting those together is natural. On the spot, Brosowsky sat down and wrote up the outline of his business plan. Using Growing Power’s shaky WiFi connection, he registered the domain name CompostCab.com.
For $32 a month, Compost Cab gives each customer a countertop collection basket and an airtight bin, lined with a sturdy, compostable bag, to minimize smells and keep away rodents, always a worry with composting. Customers fill the bin with kitchen scraps such as banana peels, coffee grounds or vegetable trimmings. If it grows, it goes, is the company rule.
Each week, Compost Cab picks up the bag, leaving behind a clean bin with a new liner. It delivers the waste to urban farms, including Eco City Farms in Edmonston (near Hyattsville) and the Washington Youth Garden at the National Arboretum, which use the material to improve their soil and grow more food. It also works with commercial clients including the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill and Qualia Coffee in Northwest Washington.
“As composting becomes more mainstream, my job is to make sure that some significant piece of the stream gets captured for urban farms,” Brosowsky says.
For Kate Hill, a caterer and self-described “foodie,” subscribing to Compost Cab was a no-brainer. She had been giving her scraps to a neighbor with a compost pile, but that ended quickly when rodents became a problem. “It killed me to see how much I was returning to the trash,” she said. “There was no reason that it shouldn’t go someplace that it can do some good, rather than sitting in a landfill in a plastic bag.”