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DIY Composting

When people ask about the secret to our Green Envy soil, they’re often surprised to hear the response: food. That’s right. Our soil is comprised entirely of composted food scraps and other renewable materials. While we’re proud of its exceptional quality, we’re also passionate about its impact on the globe. According to the EPA, Americans generate more than 250 million tons of trash each year. By using composted food in our products, we can help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills—and YOU can too. Composting at home is easy and not nearly as intimidating as it sounds.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Containers

    You’ll want to invest in a composting container for both inside and outside your home. For inside, choose a container with a filter or charcoal liner to help keep odors out. Bins such as this one are durable, yet attractive enough to set on the counter! Your outside bin is where the real work takes place. It can be as simple as a 30-gallon trash can with holes poked in the sides for oxygenation or as sophisticated as one of these tumblers. In both instances, a secure lid is key! Nothing puts a damper on your composting efforts like unwelcomed critters.

  • What can I compost?

    Good question! All sources recommend maintaining a 30:1 carbon to nitrogen ratio when composting. While this sounds complicated, it’s not. The fastest way to produce fertile soil is to maintain a proper balance of energy (carbon) and protein (nitrogen). Materials such as leaves, newspaper and wood chips are high in carbon, while coffee grounds, food waste and grass clippings are high in nitrogen. Remember to chop up food and other materials before placing them in your bin to help accelerate the process. If you’re questioning a particular item, check out this great list of composting no-no’s.

  • Stir it up!

    The best way to speed up the compost process is to keep it moving. Most tumblers sit on casters, which allow you to spin them by hand. If you do not have a tumbler, simply use a pitchfork to move the compost around. Sunlight is also a great motivator. Ideally, your bin should be situated in a place that receives direct sunlight.

  • Keep it damp

    Like other living things in your garden, you’ll need to water your compost. It should not be so wet that water leaks out the bottom or so dry that it appears dusty. A gentle sprinkle whenever you water your plants is sufficient.

  • Wait and watch

    Because the success of your compost relies heavily on many different factors, including weather, it is important to remain patient during the process. Depending on which method you use, your soil could be ready anywhere from 3 to18 months after you begin.

  • Consider a service

    If you share our passion for composting but are not into the DIY approach, companies like this one can help! You’ll still reduce food waste and will be rewarded with rich, fertile soil for your garden. Win – win!

Green Envy is a nutrient-rich, chemical-free premium line of soils manufactured by Ohio Mulch Supply. Our process upcycles food scraps into reusable material that promotes natural plant growth, helping to transform communities into greener, cleaner places to live. With three manufacturing facilities and nationwide distribution firmly in place, we continue to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability.

Doing things that are good for the environment

At Green Envy Soil, we’re all about doing things that are good for the environment. As experts in the development of all-natural, organic and chemical-free soils, we’re completely over the moon about sustainability. It’s no wonder we often get questions from people who want to know how they, too, can make a difference. We think organic gardening is a good place to begin, mainly because anyone can do it—regardless of where you live. Trouble is, many people simply don’t know where to begin, and all too often rookie mistakes slow them down. With that in mind, we gathered these simple tips designed to get you started.

  • Seek out the sun. Plant your garden in an area that gets at least six hours of sun each day. About three weeks before you plant, create your plant bed, loosen the dirt, add the compost and rake away any stones or clumps of dirt.
  • Use good soil. This is the secret to growing healthy plants, and the reason Green Envy Soil is your number-one green-thumb ingredient. Food scraps and yard waste are combined to give your plants a nutrient-rich start.
  • Buy or make a compost bin. Whether you buy a bin or make your own, this no-fail approach is easy, and spring is a great time to get started. Simply discard everything from food scraps to old newspapers, and time will take care of the rest. An inch of compost on top of the soil does wonders for your plants.
  • Water wisely. It’s best to water before you plant so you don’t wash out the seeds. But even after you plant, too much or too little water can create turmoil in your garden. Not sure when to water? Stick your finger in the ground to determine if it’s dry or moist, and then proceed accordingly. Either way, a slow spray is always better than a heavy dousing.
  • Plant the right plants. Begin by doing a little research to determine which plants are native to your area. This instantly increases your chances of success. If you’re planting vegetables, start with the easy stuff, like peppers and zucchini. Tomatoes are tempting, but they are challenging to grow. Thankfully, cherry tomatoes are usually a slam dunk for newbie gardeners.
  • Keep the pests away. If your soil is properly balanced, pests aren’t likely to be a problem. Luckily, there’s a good solution just in case. Simply plant flowers that naturally attract pest-eating predators, like wasps and ladybugs. Or unleash some praying mantis to gobble up the unwanted beetles.
  • Avoid the urge to overplant. It’s easy to get overly enthused about your newfound adventure, but don’t plant more than you can eat. No one wants to be the neighbor who shows up at your door twice a week with a bag of rotting tomatoes. If you simply can’t resist growing more than your family can enjoy, plan to grow certain vegetables and agree to let a friend grow something else. Then you can swap.

Green Envy is a nutrient-rich, chemical-free premium line of soils manufactured by Ohio Mulch Supply. Our process upcycles food scraps into reusable material that promotes natural plant growth, helping to transform communities into greener, cleaner places to live. With three manufacturing facilities and nationwide distribution firmly in place, we continue to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability. Learn more at greenenvysoil.com and “like” us on Facebook at Green Envy Soil.

At White Castle, they’re going ‘green’


Six local White Castle restaurants, including this one at Kenny and Henderson roads, have begun composting their food scraps.

That plate of White Castle sliders might soon be sliding into a garden near you.

White Castle has launched a pilot program to compost all of its food and paper scraps at six Columbus-area restaurants. The company began composting at its corporate office in October, and rolled out the restaurant program in December.

“The team members are on board, and it’s gone smoothly,” said Shannon Tolliver, social responsibility and environmental sustainability manager at White Castle. “As a company, we’re always looking into cost-effective ways to reduce our waste. This is the way the culture is moving, and we want to be at the front end of the curve.”

Ohio Mulch composts White Castle’s discarded food, as well as that of several other local restaurants. Those former food scraps are available to the public as a new garden product: Green Envy, a high-quality garden soil and compost.

Incorporating a composting program into the routines of busy fast-food workers has been easier than expected. It’s just a matter of having separate trash cans for compostable items and garbage, the company said.

White Castle employees have had to change how they manage waste, and it “took a little bit of getting used to at first, getting everything in the right bucket, but now it’s really smooth and it’s not much extra work for the staff,” said Chris Shaffery, regional director for the company. Now, it’s second nature. “We compost hamburger boxes, towels, coffee filters and grounds, all food products, anything you can eat.”

The employees are excited that the company is making an effort to be greener, he said. White Castle uses Green Envy in the landscaping at some restaurants and at the company’s corporate offices. “We’ve completed the circle.”

The move has reduced each restaurant’s garbage bill, and the frequency of garbage pickup by about once a week, Tolliver said. At best, though, it’s only a break-even proposition. White Castle pays a specialty waste hauler, Eartha Limited, to pick up the compostable items and take them to Ohio Mulch.

The program is in the midst of a six-month trial. Participating restaurants are located at 1111 S. High St., 965 N. High St., 4525 Kenny Rd., 801 E. 5th Ave., 1555 W. Broad St., and 8787 Owenfield Dr. in Powell.

At the end of the trial, White Castle said it will consider expanding the program to more restaurants in central Ohio, and will consider testing it in other cities. But moving the program to other cities can be complicated, Tolliver said. “It’s a question of how to roll it out. Composting is so regional. You have to have a compost facility and a hauler.”

Central Ohio is lucky in that regard, as it has both. Ohio Mulch had the equipment and capacity to compost food waste, and the food-scrap composting project has been a boon for it as well. “Our customers are really excited about (Green Envy),” said Chris Smith, manager at Ohio Mulch.

It’s also saving the company money.

In the past, much of the rich soil needed to make premium garden-soil mixes was dredged in Michigan and then hauled here. Composted food scraps have replaced some of that Michigan dirt, and “It’s really reduced our transportation costs.”

Columbus also has a specialized waste hauler. Eartha Limited is in the business of helping food-service companies compost and reduce their waste. Formed in 2009 by Mike Minnix, the company helps more than two dozen local companies, festivals and universities compost their food scraps.

The list of local places composting food through Eartha is long and growing, and includes Pattycake Bakery, the Explorers Club, Ohio State University, Comfest, Tip Top, Katzinger’s Deli, Northstar Cafe, Ohio Wesleyan University, COSI Columbus and the Franklin Park Conservatory. Eartha hauls the waste to Ohio Mulch in a small truck fueled, in part, by used restaurant frying oil.

Food scraps are the No. 1 material in landfills. In 2010, Americans produced more than 34 million tons of food waste, and only 3 percent of that was diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said. Composting food scraps, rather than sending them to landfills, can reduce methane gas production at landfill sites and reduce waste-disposal costs, the agency said.

It also might be the way the restaurant industry is going. San Francisco passed a law in 2009 requiring restaurants to compost food scraps, and in recent years, restaurants in cities such as Denver have joined to start and sustain composting programs.

“It just makes sense to do this, and I think (composting) is just going to explode,” Smith said. “Sometimes, trash really is treasure.”

Denise Trowbridge, Dispatch restaurant columnist, can be reached at onrestaurants@dispatch.com.

Composted food scraps help grow prison’s crops

By  Mary Beth Lane

The Columbus Dispatch Friday May 10, 2013 7:35 AM

LANCASTER, Ohio — No cabbage leaves, apple cores or banana peels ever go to waste at the state’s Southeastern Correctional Complex, which houses about 1,950 inmates in two prisons near Lancaster and Nelsonville.

Every scrap of leftover food is collected and saved from dining halls and dormitories. Twice a week, an inmate climbs on a tractor and tows a wagon brimming with slop to the composting field. There, the food slop is mixed with wood chips and cow manure — also collected from the prison grounds — and tilled and tended into mature compost.

The compost then is spread on the Lancaster prison’s 850 acres of farmland to serve as a soil nutrient to help grow the corn and hay on which 600 head of cattle feed. The beef cattle eventually are slaughtered and made into meals for the inmates. Their leftovers begin the process again.

“It’s a loop. You’re just putting back what you took out,” said Sgt. Dan Kinsel, solid-waste and recycling coordinator at the prison complex, which emerged from the prison system’s budget-cutting consolidation of the Southeastern Correctional Institution near Lancaster and the Hocking Correctional Facility near Nelsonville.

There is increasing interest in what the prison complex is doing.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Grocers Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the 400-member statewide grocers association, have scheduled a conference today at the state’s Lake Hope Lodge in Vinton County to link institutions with food-waste haulers and compost-makers.

The conference is the latest of several that the agency and the foundation have held across the state.Grocery stores are among the biggest food-scrap producers. Many are interested in recycling food waste to save on trash-hauling costs and to show their customers that they are environmentally friendly businesses, foundation Director Tonya Woodruff said.

The conference, the first to be held in southeastern Ohio, is expected to draw representatives of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Ohio University — which recycles all food scraps into compost on its Athens campus — local school districts, Carnival Foods and others.

Recycling leftover food into compost helps the environment by putting the scraps to good use rather than sending them to landfills. It also can save businesses and government institutions money by lowering their trash-hauling fees. But the savings work only if food-waste haulers have enough customers along their routes to make it worthwhile and affordable, conference organizers said.

Connecting large food-scrap generators with haulers and composting businesses could generate much-needed jobs for the region, said Erin Katherine Sykes of Rural Action. The community-service group, which works to improve Appalachian Ohio, helped organize the conference.

The number of composting facilities in Ohio has grown from a half dozen or so to 27 in the past six years, Woodruff said. A good example is Ohio Mulch, whose Delaware County site takes in Kroger food scraps and reduces and bags them to a “nice, rich compost product” called Green Envy, which is sold in both Ohio Mulch and Kroger stores, she said.

The Southeastern Correctional Complex has cut $95,000 annually from its trash-hauling fees by composting all its food scraps, and it has saved an additional $40,000 annually on trash bags, spokeswoman Karrie Hupka said.


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