What is Kids That Compost?

A social enterprise founded in Columbus, Ohio that empowers kids to educate and inspire our communities. As a network of young people, parents, advocates, service providers, city leaders and schools, Kids That Compost (KTC) provides weekly curbside pickups to divert food scraps and other compostable waste from our landfills.

Kids That Compost does this in four easy steps:

1. We deliver a bucket and lid with a compostable liner.

2. You add food scraps and other compostable waste to your bucket.

3. Every week, we pick up your compost bucket content and replace your liner.

4. The food waste is cultivated at local farms to produce nutrient rich compost soil to nourish our community’s gardens.

September 7, 2020
By Jaclyn Tracy

How did the idea emerge?

Mona Barber, the founder of Kids That Compost, believes in nurturing young people’s deep appreciation for the environment and providing them with the opportunity to work, serve and lead in their communities. Looking back, two main experiences were responsible for Mona’s inspiration for KTC. The first was her tween-age, thoughtful daughter who pushed her family to stop using “single-use plastics.” The second was a conversation with a friend ten years ago that stuck with her. Her friend, who then was responsible for the recycling program for the EPA, told her that compostable food scraps in landfills do not disintegrate due to a lack of airflow. This blew Mona’s mind!

Composting has been a practice in the Barber home for more than four years. Every Saturday they would drive their bucket to a local farmers market to drop off their weekly food scraps with a dedication for diverting food waste from the landfill. Despite her dedication, Mona recognized that many were deterred from composting due to the inconvenience. She also observed that one community in Columbus did have citywide curbside pickup of food waste, but Mona’s community and many others did not. After conversations with City Council representatives, Mona realized that it would take years to get her municipality to activate such a program and decided to take things into her own hands by starting a business with her kids. Since the creation and success of Kids That Compost, municipality leaders have shared that they “love it and if the kids lift it, then we’ll find a way to support it.”

Kids That Compost is so much more than just a curbside pickup service. While it is critically important to provide a service that makes it easy for people to engage in a practice, the youth team was interested and had the energy to do so much more! Today, the KTC team serves as an educational platform for kids to learn, practice, and teach others about all things sustainable.

Why is composting so important?

Food waste put in the trash, and therefore in landfills, does NOT decompose! Most people do not know this fact. In Franklin County with a population of 2,122,271 residents, we put one MILLION pounds of food waste into that landfill each and every day!

“Food waste put in the trash, and therefore in landfills, does NOT decompose!”

– Kids That Compost

What is KTC’s vision for the future? / Why is this important for our future to teach kids how to compost?

Kids That Compost is a platform giving children an opportunity to lead, educate and work together to make change. Being a part of Kids That Compost gives our youth a sense of pride and accomplishment and Mona believes this meaningful experience will become increasingly cherished to the KTC youth members as they are celebrated for their leadership. KTC develops future leaders who will decrease our carbon footprint and create a more sustainable tomorrow—a team that grows day by day and is intent on lifting a movement. By acting as mentors and role models, these children are empowered to teach conservation skills and build values that carry into adulthood. The earlier that kids embrace sustainability, the longer they will live with an environmental conscience. This will not only benefit the earth directly, but those kids will also impact their peers, parents and community to do the same. Kids That Compost is in the process of expanding into additional cities and states with the mission of “changing the world one bucket at a time!”

How does KTC approach composting?

Composting is easy and fun! KTC approaches composting as an opportunity for any child, no matter how young, to make a big difference. KTC encourages children to advocate for themselves and a brighter, cleaner future. When children come together for a cause as important as this one, anything is possible. “Further, Faster” is how Mona Barber described this initiative from day one. With young people asking those around them to make this small change for the health of their planet, together they can make a BIG impact. “Small Change, Big Impact” is a defining motto of Kids That Compost.

“I personally use the composting services Kids That Compost (KTC) provide, but I also wholeheartedly believe in its greater mission. With SISTAIN, success to me is in the collective impact, getting a whole group of people to change their behavior by committing to choosing sustainable brands, less waste and imperfect progress. And KTC lives that philosophy every single day, touching thousands of lives by building and nurturing an environmental conscience at an early age.” – Jaclyn Tracy, Founder of SISTAIN

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