Thanks to a new bicycle compost collection business, Burlington is now one step closer to standing side-by-side with Portland, Ore., and other progressive bike-centric cities. Revolution Compost, a new service of One Revolution, a relatively new bicycle hauling operation in Burlington, picks up residential compost by bike and deposits it at the Chittenden Solid Waste District drop-off center on Pine Street. The service began mid-March, and so far has 18 customers. (We profiled One Revolution here.)
Mark Bromley, who runs the business with his two adult kids, Sam and Anna, explains the service like this:
For a one-time start-up fee of $25, Revolution Compost provides customers with a compost tote into which folks can dump their compost directly. (They can also provide compostable bags for an extra cost.) Every Tuesday (or every other Tuesday, depending on the customer's needs), Revolution will come pick up the compost and pedal it down to CSWD. Weekly pick-up costs $8; biweekly pick-up costs $10.
Composting by bike has its rewards beyond environmental sustainability. For every 30 gallons (or five totes) that Revolution hauls away from a customer, that customer earns a five-gallon bag of Intervale Compost, delivered to his/her door by bike. That's a pretty good deal, Bromley says -- "One would be hard-pressed to make that much compost with 30 gallons of scraps."
In the month they've been at it, Revolution has generated a fair bit of buzz. And since the Intervale operation closed down, the timing for their venture couldn't have been more perfect. People who don't want to drive to Pine Street or one of CSWD's six other drop-off sites because they're lazy are totally set. And people who are worried about expending fossil fuels to transport their compost can feel secure in the knowledge that no CO2 was emitted in the process.
While Revolution Compost is certainly a novel business here in Chittenden County -- at present, they are the only bicycle compost pick-up -- the idea isn't all that new. In Northhampton, Mass., Pedal People has been hauling people's compost away for years. Then there's VeloVeggies in Minneapolis, Eureka Recycling in St. Paul, Minn., and Pedal Co-op in Philadelphia, all providing similar compost hauling services. Still, it's new to Burlington, and somewhat more challenging given the climate and the hills.
The early positive response gives Bromley hope. "We're feeling pretty confident about it," he says. "We're feeling like it's a real viable thing."