Compost Clubhouse (formerly Kids That Compost) began one early Saturday morning in the summer of 2019.

July 1, 2020
By Mona Barber

Our daughter goes to school in a community that offers citywide curbside pick-up of food waste. Meanwhile, I was still driving my compost bucket to our local market early Saturday mornings to deposit our food waste. I asked myself, “Why can’t everyone benefit from this curbside service? Not long after, at a Mom’s get-together, I had a conversation with a friend and City Council Representative, who later became our Mayor. I asked her “Why can’t we do this in Grandview? We are a like-size, like-minded community.” She said that it was complicated. After researching the process, they decide they needed to have a feasibility study and ascertain the interest level of the residents. We kept talking and I said, “Well, I’m going to do it with the kids!” That’s when Compost Clubhouse became a reality. Since then our Mayor, and many other municipality leaders, have shared that they “love it and if the kids lift it, then we’ll find a way to support it.”
Looking back, my inspiration for Compost Clubhouse came from two experiences. Ten years ago, I was having lunch with a friend who was responsible for the recycling program for the Ohio EPA. At that lunch, he described the recycling process in detail. (As someone with a history in manufacturing, I am always fascinated with any kind of process.) During that conversation, I asked about the compression and degradation of food waste in landfills. He revealed that food doesn’t disintegrate in landfills because there is no airflow. I looked at him in a state of surprise.
He said, “If you put a banana peel in a newspaper and you put the newspaper in the trash which is sent to a landfill, after ten years you could bring it up, open the newspaper and the banana will be identifiable!”
This blew my mind! So many people do not know this.
My second inspiration came from my beautiful and thoughtful daughter who was constantly pushing us to stop using “single-use plastic” after we returned from a trip to California where composting was widely available. Then, I realized that if we could engage children to get behind this composting idea, we could change the world! When kids get behind anything, they don’t give up. And so it began.
Although Compost Clubhouse started locally in our community, I quickly had friends in several other neighborhoods that said, “we want a team!” In September 2020, we will officially be one year old! We are now serving 26 communities via integrated school programs and weekly residential curbside pick-ups. My long-term dream is that Compost Clubhouse will eventually teach the world — city by city, community by community, state by state — how to preserve our planet.
When students joins our Youth Team, they get business cards and a t-shirt to be worn at Compost Clubhouse sponsored events. We provide them with printed and electronic materials so that they can educate their neighbors, teachers, relatives and friends. Our teams get involved at every level — from delivering buckets, to managing social media and presenting to their municipality board of directors. I encourage them to run their Compost Clubhouse program like it’s their own business. Someday, when they’re applying to college, they will be able to proudly say, “I did this! I convinced 117 homes to sign up for Compost Clubhouse.” 117 homes equals 117 buckets picked up 52 weeks per year. Multiplying this annually provides an exact tally that each student can own as food waste they have rescued from landfills! And, of course, we welcome kids of all ages, genders, races, and ability to join the Compost Clubhouse movement!
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