What sounds like a simple composting operation is actually a solution to many different problems.
Egino Emerging had a truly inspiring meeting with a like-minded organisation in the US. The UK could benefit from importing the ideas and practices of The Compost Cooperative.
The Compost Cooperative have a simple, but effective, approach to creating solutions for environmental and social problems. They run a food waste pickup service whereby local residents have their food waste picked up by The Compost Cooperative who deliver it to a composting farm. In this simple way, residents improve their environment by recycling their food waste, which reduces landfill, to produce soil improving compost which reduces the need for agricultural fertilizers.
But it doesn’t stop there. The people who run The Compost Cooperative are from a socially excluded demographic. The people running the social enterprise are formerly incarcerated individuals who have been excluded from employment and struggle to find housing. Instead of walking out of prison into a life struggling to find a place to live and work, they can walk into a formal apprenticeship to learn the composting trade. They’re even setting up housing for prison leaver to join the effort. The Compost Cooperative are recycling lives as well as compost.
While this business model is amazing in itself, our jaws dropped in amazement when the Compost Cooperative explained how their organisation operates. They are a true cooperative. Each worker is an owner with a say in how the operation is run. All decisions are made as a group. The journey from life problems, to prison, to rehabilitation, to responsible business owner helping to address environmental issues, is nothing short of astounding. This is what progress looks like. A simple social enterprise model addresses multiple environmental and social issues.
This is very much what Egino Emerging is working to achieve in the UK. Recycling lives through agriculture is what we’re all about. It’s through linking with other groups and sharing ideas that, together, we can make a bigger impact on the environment and society.