We're bringing the Beacon Compost Program to the Beacon Farmer's Market!

Starting next Sunday, May 29th, you can drop off food waste at our Zero Waste Station at the Beacon Farmer's Market.

How it works:

  • Price per lb is $1.00
  • Compost can be dropped off in either compostable BioBags or our 4-gallon square ZTG bucket, which you can purchase for $10. We suggest grabbing a bucket, as it will end up costing you less. We use one kind of bucket so we can streamline the weighing process. 
  • Our current compost customers average 5 lbs of compost weekly. Most households with 2-3 people use about 2-3 bags a week. Compostable BioBags can be purchased at the Beacon Natural Market in packs of 25 for $5.99. In the future, we will be selling bags at the Farmer's Market drop-off location.

Why we're adding this service:

  • Drop off is an easier, cheaper alternative for some households.
  • You don't have to be from Beacon!
  • We accept cash or credit card.

Press from Country Wisdom News

Zero to Go Models the Future of Waste Management

by Melissa Orozco-McDonough   

Though most local towns and municipalities in the Hudson Valley currently have active recycling and solid waste management programs, getting people to want to recycle and to practice proper, responsible waste disposal is still an issue. People are probably not sorting their waste incorrectly on purpose; it’s far more likely that they simply have not been taught how to do it properly. With recycling rules varying from state to state and even county to county, it’s no wonder people are confused. Organizations and businesses like Zero to Go of Beacon, NY are forming throughout the region fix this problem.

Founded by Sarah Womer in 2011, Zero to Go is an education-based waste management company focused on composting and recycling. Among the services offered by the company are zero-waste event services, consulting services for everything related to waste in commercial and residential settings, compost pickup, and the sale of compostable products (cups, plates, etc.). According to Sarah Womer, Zero to Go began in a rather unconventional way. “My friends and I were trying to come up with a way to get styrofoam products out of Beacon’s restaurants and schools. In short, we weren’t able to at the time because prices for styrofoam were (and still are) so much cheaper than paper, plastics, and tin. I gave up and turned my attention to electronics recycling, organizing several drives with a second party recycler to collect unwanted electronics for safe recycling.”

“The electronics recycling industry hit a large road bump and I was no longer able to work with high-quality, responsible recyclers. So I turned my attention to the 20 to 30 public events that happen in the city of Beacon every year, leaving a huge mess of garbage in their wake. Me and my friends started to separate recyclables from the garbage at events, which led us to get donations of recycle bins for events, which then led us to get our own bins and bring them to events. Instead of sorting recyclables during or after the events, we now have a team of educators that stands behind the bins and helps the public understand what goes where.” 

Some of the Hudson Valley events that Zero to Go has provided zero waste services for include Beacon Riverfest, the Beacon Jazz Festival, Community Day at Upper Landing Park in Poughkeepsie, the Firefly Feast in Beacon with Common Ground Farm, the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, the Hudson Hop and Harvest Festival in conjunction with Peekskill Brewery, and many more. “We’ve done 15 events this year already, and have several planned for the fall,” Sarah says. The company is growing every year; they achieved B Corp status in 2013 (a Fair Trade-equivalent certification issued to companies and businesses dedicated to social and environmental issues), and they won the Best for the World award in the environmental category for three years running. They’re currently building out a huge calendar for next year, while carefully keeping track of how many bags of compost, recycling, and garbage they collect, and publishing the metrics after each event.  

“Our best event to date was the Hop and Harvest Festival, which brought 4,500 people to a craft beer festival from 11am to 9pm. We had only 8 bags of trash and 120 bags of compost. To achieve such excellent results, we planned well in advance with the organizers, who made sure that every vendor had compostable products. We generally take 2 months to work with organizers on this, and we encourage as much advance planning as possible to make events successful,” Sarah said. “Our team is passionate about recycling and composting, and we know all the rules for recycling in any county where we are hired. The rules are different from county to county, but our job is to empower the public through information.”

A Zero to Go waste tent at Poughkeepsie's Community Day Celebration in August 2015. Photo courtesy of Zero to Go.

A Zero to Go waste tent at Poughkeepsie's Community Day Celebration in August 2015. Photo courtesy of Zero to Go.

 Sarah states that people are often very excited to speak with them about their recycling questions, “and they’re also thrilled to tell us about how they’ve been composting. We’re pushing compost culture! I’m from Hyde Park and have lived in Beacon for 10 years. I’m very proud of our work and know that it’s inspiring many people to action in their homes and at work.” The company’s latest endeavor is Beacon Compost, a project for which the company successfully raised $20,000 to launch a food waste pickup service in Beacon, accomplished by bike alone. “We use heavy duty cargo bicycles with electric assist motors to help us carry hundreds of pounds throughout town,” Sarah says proudly.

“Our partner in the program is Empire Zero, a compost hauler based in Albany. We collect material from 34 customers and stage it centrally for Empire Zero to pick up every Monday and bring to a Kingston industrial compost facility. Because it’s being processed by an industrial system, we’re able to collect meat, dairy, and [commercially] compostable products like bioplastic cups made of sugarcane stalks. That means it’s very easy for our 4 restaurants and 30 residents to compost, as we accept so many materials in our program. We’re averaging 800 pounds per month for residents, and 6,000 pounds per month for businesses.”

“It’s been a very successful program. We’re about to enter Phase 2 and expand the program to more residents. We hope to have 100 customers by the end of the year. The cost to be in the program is $50 per month for residents. The program is not accepting any more businesses at this time. Phase 3 is the creation of a Beacon compost facility, so we can close the loop and produce high quality soil in our community for farmers and growers, as well as reduce the cost of running the program.”

For more information on this wonderful company, what they do and how you can get involved, visit www.zerotogo.org and www.beaconcompost.com. 

Riversweep 2015

Thank you to the 50+ people who came out yesterday to clean up Denning's Point in Beacon! Between our site and Riverfront Park, we collected 2410 lbs of material, which includes 43 bags of trash, 39 bags of recycling, 13 tires, scrap metal, wood and rigid plastics.

Thank you to Riverkeeper for organizing the yearly riversweep and making it so easy for us, even helping us get bags from American Rivers. Dana Gulley - you are a powerhouse and we can't thank you enough for all your work in planning this event with 100+ sites from NYC to Troy!

Thank you to Peoples Bicycle for keeping our bikes rolling strong. Thank you to The Home Depot for donating gloves for our 100+ volunteers (between the 2 sites). The biggest thanks of all goes to the volunteers who make this event so powerful. Last year, 85 sites removed 31 tons from the Hudson's shores: this year, 103 sites removed over 40 tons, with the help of over 2000 volunteers. We're proud to be a part of this impact, and look forward to doing it again next year!

Our Kickstarter campaign was a success!

HOORAY! 

Even though I took two days to recuperate from the excitement - words don't do this justice! THANK YOU!

Saturday was so unbelievably exciting because so many of you were following this campaign obsessively and I could feel it! The energy you all created by supporting this project was incredible: it was shared on facebook hundreds of times on Saturday afternoon because we all knew there was a real chance at reaching the goal for this important project. The community came together to make this happen and I am forever grateful. 

I want to thank you all, supporters who recognize how awesome and important this project is. I will be thanking you all in several ways in the coming days, including with these items below! AND - when all the rewards are in, the Zero to Go team will be inviting you to a party to celebrate, get a live update from me, and pick up your reward. Can't wait! And of course, if you're not able to come, we'll get your reward to you. 

I'm going to ride this wave of excitement for the years I plan to serve the community. We're building a movement together, and this was the first step of many to come. I look forward to all of them and I thank you for allowing me to lead this City into the future of waste management. 

Thank you to my team! My #1 fan and life partner, Jon Miles. Sidelines guru Clareann Grimaldi. Indefatigable Peggy Ross. Cheerleader who's been there Melissa McGill, who didn't let me quit! Strategist Audrey Molsky. Whiteboard planner Maureen Darras. Design doodler Dan Weise. Video wizards Ed Roy, Tara LaTorre, Casey Silvestri, Ethan Harrison and Jonathan Bickoff. Big beats from Joe Fuse & Steel Tipped Dove. Plan B strategists Josh Kogan and Paul Ellis for helping me to think outside the box. Big ups to Atticus Lanigan for keeping all the other balls ZTG juggles in the air while this thing came together.

The world of waste is a small and fierce one, and I loved they came together to support this project in numerous ways! Thank you to Community Compost Company of New Paltz, Farmer Pirates of Buffalo, CRP Sanitation, Troy Zero Waste - Troy Compost, Ulster County Solid Waste, Dutchess County Solid Waste, Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County, Mid-Hudson League of Women Voters Solid Waste Study Group, Jill Gruber of the Hudson Valley Materials Exchange (former), Recycle Depot, NYC Community Compost, Reclaimed Organics, NYSDEC Region 3, EPA Region 2, CompoKeeper, Reuse Institute and of course, partners Empire Zero. 

Some of the dozens of organizations that highlighted the importance of this project: Philipstown.info, Riverkeeper, Homespun Foods, The Hop, Drink More Good, Obercreek Farm, Beacon Natural Market, Wigwam Economy, A Little Beacon Blog, Common Ground Farm, Peoples Bicycle, ReThink Local, Constellation by Melissa McGill, Tito Santana Taqueria, Hudson Beach Glass, Ella's Bellas, The Beacon Community Resource Center, Revolution Rickshaws, Mill House Brewing Company, Sustainable Hudson Valley, HeFestus, Hudson Valley News, Beacon Bread Company, Windows on Main Street, Poppy's Burger's and Fries, Niche Modern, Beacon Sloop Club, Nature's Pantry Hudson Valley, Beacon Climate Action, Shred Foundation and more! Thanks to you, the word got OUT! 

To the hundreds of friends and acquaintances who helped to spread the word - you are pure power! This wouldn't have been possible without your excitement and conviction.

Thank you! 

-Sarah 

Our Kickstarter Campaign

The Beacon Compost Project is LIVE on kickstarter - check it! 

We're so excited to get this project off the ground with 34 customers, and we need help in getting the word out in the last three days of the campaign. Please share: 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1053064049/beacon-compost-project/

 

We would like to thank J6 MediaWorks for the incredible video production, Dan Weise of Thundercut for his excellent design work, Steel Tipped Dove for the film's music, and Compost Partners Homespun FoodsThe Hop: craft beer and artisanal fare, Ava of Hudson Valley Seed and Dana of Riverkeeper for appearing in the video.

Helping Bedford2020 go Zero Waste

To kick off the new year, Zero to Go worked with the Bedford 2020 Environmental Summit and Solar Action Day. Of the 12 bags of waste ZTG collected at the 500 person event, 8 were composted and 3 recycled.

On the agenda for the day were sessions such as "Talking Trash: Waste and Recycling 201" and "A Rind is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Composting 1-2-3", as well as talks by the leading thinkers in environmental and energy policy. The expo area featured over 30 green organizations and businesses, many aiming to connect homeowners to solar energy programs as part of the launch of the 19-week "Solarize Bedford-Mount Kisco" campaign.

Richard Kaufmann, a keynote speaker of Bedford 2020 and chairman of the NYSERDA board, asked in the day's opening remarks: "How do we get from the system of today to the system of tomorrow?" His talk focused on the evolution of our electricity system, transforming what we expect from our utilities, and government involvement in energy markets to increase clean energy use in communities. He used group buying as an example of how to lower the soft costs of solar (customer acquisition costs, installation costs, etc.).

Don Raskopf of the Beacon Sloop Club with Ali Muhammad and Maureen Darras of Zero to Go.

Don Raskopf of the Beacon Sloop Club with Ali Muhammad and Maureen Darras of Zero to Go.

Government and community partnership is easily applicable to waste management. The Environmental Protection Agency's website states: "Composting can also improve local economies and the environment—by turning organic waste, which is a large portion of many city waste streams, into a marketable product for urban and agricultural uses. Together, recycling and composting can provide income, significantly reduce waste, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions." [source: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/waste/downloads/recycle.pdf]

New York City has introduced the NYC Compost Project, which provides low cost backyard compost bins and reduced cost worm compost bins to participating neighborhoods, as well as providing the technical support and public education for the programs to succeed.

Zero to Go is planning to pilot a citywide compost program in the Hudson Valley in the upcoming year with the same goals: community buying, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating jobs through the waste-based education and composting and recycling resources ZTG is known for providing at events.

Veronique Pittman of the Bedford2020 Board spins the "Wheel of Trash" with a participant. The Wheel of Trash is an interactive educational tool to inform the public about commonly trashed items that are actually recyclable. 

Veronique Pittman of the Bedford2020 Board spins the "Wheel of Trash" with a participant. The Wheel of Trash is an interactive educational tool to inform the public about commonly trashed items that are actually recyclable. 

Amory Lovins, the co founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, is one of the world's leading authorities on the efficient use and supply of energy. He recently published a new book, which he described as an "ambitious synthesis of American energy solutions."

Lovins addressed the audience: "Could we make energy work without making our undoing? Imagine fuel without fear?" He cautioned against the hidden economic and military cost of our oil dependence, and advocated for energy solutions that we have already discovered. He emphasized that this transition would need no new inventions, no new federal subsidies, taxations, or laws -- just policy changes, which could all be done administratively at the federal level or at a state or local level.

The combination of tech, public policy, design, and strategy leads to uniquely disruptive business opportunities, according to Lovins. He used the example of electric cars, stating that to save fuel, manufacturers could lower weight of cars. In turn, cars would need less force to move, which would allow for the use of costlier batteries and fuel cells; this makes possible the electrification of cars. Championing the "feebate" concept, in which fees are charged on inefficient cars to provide rebates on efficient cars, he referenced how this program tripled the speed of improving auto efficiency in France.

Illustrating the broader implications of "feebates", the National Center for Biotechnology Information published a paper in 2004 entitled "Potential use of feebate systems to foster environmentally sound urban waste management." This paper encourages recompensating municipalities with better results in waste management performance with a rebate obtained from a fee charged to municipalities that are less "environmentally sound."

Andy Revkin, writer for the New York Times and professor at Pace University, closed out the day with an impassioned call for sustained commitment in the fight against global warming.
"The basics haven't changed," he stated. Emphasizing that the science is not new, he spoke of two social realities: "the energized planet, and the two billion people cooking on firewood [who] can't turn on a light bulb."

Revkin stated that policies are a "function of habit." Praising the long term vision of Bedford 2020, he referenced his previous writings on 'uninventing suburbia' as a guide for going forward. He encouraged the audience to remain steadfast: "You can build out from the way we teach to the way we think, which leads to my guarded optimism."

Zero to Go's education-based waste management services being incorporated into the day's events served as a strong reminder that conversations about solar energy, electric cars, and greenhouse gas emissions continue to build upon and generate new ideas for waste management.

Maureen and Sarah from Zero to Go sorting through the Expo's waste and separating recyclables and compostables.

Maureen and Sarah from Zero to Go sorting through the Expo's waste and separating recyclables and compostables.

The Little Things Movie Benefit for SHRED

The Little Things Movie is a project based on environmentally conscious riders who are inspirational through their riding, as well as their sustainable ways of living and thinking. SHRED and Zero to Go are teaming up to present this movie premiere. 

There is a $5 suggested donation and official SHRED t-shirts for sale. All proceeds from the evening which will go to support SHRED's youth development programming.

Movie Premiere shred.jpg

ReCommunity Beacon

I'd like to mention that I'm giving tours at ReCommunity Beacon, where all the recyclables for Dutchess County are processed. If you're interested in taking a tour, send me an email at sarah.womer@recommunity.com! Tours are free, and can be scheduled whenever I'm available and the plant is open. Groups at least 8 people large but no larger than 30 are acceptable. 

Great info on their website about what's recyclable, along with an interactive MRF to play with. http://www.recommunity.com/education. 

Special thanks to Kathy Raye O'Connor from the League of Women Voters for the first two photos, taken this past June. 

Q4 newsletter

Q4

As the 4th quarter of the draws to a close, we're working to provide a larger range of services. This year, we've offered zero waste event services and handled a total of 7 food-related events. I'm very proud of all we've accomplished, and will be publishing our yearly totals next month. 

Wholesale Distribution of Compostable Goods

Looking forward to next year, I've brought Korey Findley onboard as a sales manager to help me work on the possibility of becoming a distributor for compostable products for the Hudson Valley. This is a great opportunity to get event organizers the compostable goods they need locally at great prices. Most distributors in our area don't carry these goods, and there is a growing need for them. We're planning on sharing our pricing with local businesses that are already using compostable products to see if we can help them drive down their costs. For the businesses that are not yet using compostable to-go products, we want to help them make the leap with a combination of education and the added service of compost pickups. In this way, it's a comprehensive plan to distribute the goods and pick up the used goods for compost. There's absolutely no point in having customers use compostable products if they're not being composted, as 65% of our waste gets incinerated in Dutchess County and the rest goes to landfills where these materials don't break down. The other issue is that bioplastic compostable goods don't easily break down in backyard compost bins, particularly not when thousands of them are added at once. This is why we need these materials to go to a compost facility that consistently gets up to high heat to ensure breakdown.

cups for peekskill

 

As some of you may know, handling weekly compost pickups via cargo bike in Beacon has been my dream for 5 years, since I got together with Jon Miles of Peoples Bicycle. Our two cargo bikes are equipped with electric assist systems, and are primed to haul hundreds of pounds of material. Our little city that's 5 miles square is a perfect place to implement this program, and I've got a team of riders pumped about this. Haulers have been unable to rise to the occasion of picking up regularly - until now. I'll be announcing the hauler and details on the compost pickup program as details develop. 

 

Events

We've had strong year of events, and have learned so much while handling the materials for thousands of people with our growing team of zero waste educators. We look forward to expanding the team, and adding a vendor management division to ensure that as much material as possible is captured and recycled/composted. Working with my event manager, Atticus Lanigan, we'll be adding more structure to our internal practices across the board. I'll be working with Dan Weise and Kalene Rivers of Thundercut, along with Fabhaus, both in Beacon, to develop signage and branding. I'll also be getting more press out there with the help of photographer Ethan Harrison, who took some really excellent photos and video of our last event -Sheep and Wool, the biggest event of our year!

It's of the highest importance to get events scheduled for 2015 now, so we can start planning with vendors. If mostly compostable products are being used for an event, we'll have very little waste, and that's the best thing for the public to experience firsthand. We want to spread the word that zero waste events work! 

 

Ongoing Projects

This year in Beacon, we did a compost pickup pilot program with Main Squeeze Juice Bar and Drink More Good. Together, they generated 215 gallons of material that I hauled to an 02 Compost system at the Sargent-Downing Garden.

With Scenic Hudson at Long Dock, we emptied the garbage and recycling cans three times per week, sorting through the trash for recyclables. It was a total of 51 bags of trash and 36.5 bags of recyclables. We found that mostly everything that was in the recycle bin did indeed belong there (with the exception of an occasional dog poop bag!), but nearly half of what was in the trash was recyclable. Using the cargo trike, we easily handled this work with zero emissions and an eye-catching bike that the public loved to see out and about. Many conversations were started about the bike, our company, and the reasons why we were sorting through the trash. 

The community came out to volunteer for the Riversweep in May, organized annually by Riverkeeper. We had over 30 people helping clean up Denning's Point, where we collected 47 bags of material and 18 wheel & tires, 3 pickup trucks full of scrap metal and styrofoam, 1/2 trailer full of large rigid plastics, and 1 TV. We separated the recyclables from the trash, and were left with only 17 bags of trash. It's always worth it to go the extra mile to get these recyclables to the right place and avoid landfilling them.

2014-10-28 16.06.31.jpg


More frequent news will be posted to the blog, so keep checking back for updates. Thank you for your support!

Towards Zero Waste,

Sarah  

Zero Waste at Sheep and Wool 2014

The Zero to Go event team is thrilled to share the below chart of our results from this year's massive Sheep and Wool Festival at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck. We handled 5 zero waste stations over two days at this festival, which brings in 30,000-40,000 people. Here's some photos of our event - more coming soon!

Last year, we did a small pilot program with three stations to show the viability of this sort of program at the Fairgrounds. We collected quite a lot of material, but as you can see, we collected a lot more this year. We were able to do so by working with vendors throughout the festival - picking up their many flattened boxes, large quantities of recyclables, and compost. Our initiative was also highlighted in this story from the Rodale News - read on

We learned a lot by working with such a large festival, and look forward to doing it again next year! 


Zero Waste Events this Month

This Saturday in Peekskill, we'll be helping 10,000 people go zero waste! Mostly everything will be compostable for the first time ever at this 3 year old festival. Looking forward to sharing stats on everything we diverted from the landfill/incinerator!

This is our second year of working with the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival, and we need volunteers to help us divert as much waste as possible to the recycle and compost bins! The festival on on October 18-19 at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck. Sign up here, and be sure to check the Zero Waste box.