Though certainly many folks in the eco-conscious and vegetable garden-filled community of Arcata already do their own composting, some residents — such as those without a yard — don’t have a lot of options when it comes to properly disposing of their food scraps.
That’s where Full Cycle Compost — a new, Arcata-based, bike-powered business — steps (or pedals) in. Starting at the end of May, Full Cycle will bike to Arcata homes and businesses to pick up food waste, so that those folks who, for whatever reason, have not been composting, will no longer have to feel guilty for throwing their leftovers into the trash.
“One reason we’re doing this is we really want to keep food scraps out of the landfill,” Morgan King — one of the operators of Full Cycle and a climate action analyst at HSU — told the Outpost. “A lot of students live off campus and a lot of people don’t have access to composters. Doing your own composting can be difficult and we understand that even people who do have a backyard sometimes just don’t have the wherewithal to do it.”
Diverting green waste from landfills will be completely necessary if Arcata is to reach its goals outlined in the Zero Waste Action Plan, which aims to reduce the City’s waste by 90 percent by the year 2027. And although Recology Arcata does offer yard waste pickup, there is currently no city composting for food items. According to a study by the Humboldt Waste Management authority cited in the action plan, food and compostable paper make up more than 30 percent of the county’s disposed waste.
The city has also made an effort to help promote composting by offering composting bins to residents for $25. But, again, this might not be super helpful for someone that does not have a yard. And though residents of apartment complexes may be able to find a suitable location for the bin, there is also the question of what to do with the compost itself if you don’t have a garden to put it in.
Full Cycle’s service works just like garbage and recycling pickup — you put out your composting container (either one of your own, or the business can provide you with one) on the curb once a week and someone comes and takes it. The scraps are then transported to either the Jacoby Creek Land Trust farm or the Arcata Community Health and Wellness Garden, where they are turned into beautiful, food-feeding compost.
Of course, unlike your usual garbage pickup service, Full Cycle does not plan to use trucks and the whole operation will be done by bicycle. As of now, King said, the business is made up of five “avid cyclists” who will place the scraps in large totes, securely fastened to a bike trailer.
“We’re committed to sustainability,” King said. “If we’re driving around in trucks, emitting greenhouse gases, then it kind of defeats the purpose.”
Using only bicycles for transport does come with some disadvantages though, such as limiting the area where Full Cycle can offer its service. Right now, the service area covers most of Arcata and Bayside but does not include the Valley West neighborhood — which King said is just kind of hard to get to on a bike. King really hopes to be able to expand to Valley West in the future, he said, and is hoping that as the business grows it will be able to offer the service in other parts of Humboldt. If you live slightly outside of Full Cycle’s service area, King said that you can still likely be eligible. Just contact the staff and they will try to work something out.
Map of Full Cycle’s service areas from the businesses website
Though strapping bins to a bike trailer might not sound like the most practical way to transport large quantities of compostables, King assured the Outpost that Full Cycle will monitor their customers and design the pickup routes in such a way as to not “max out” the trailers or cyclists. If enough people sign up, King said, they will add more pickup times and cyclists as needed.
King added that there are a number of other pedal-powered food scrap collectors around the country that have been successfully operating under a similar model. King is also part of a similar compost program at HSU, which recently started using bicycles for transport, he said.
Now you’re probably thinking to yourself “OK LoCO, sustainability is cool and all, but how much will this service cost me?” The answer is…it kind of depends. For most folks the rate will start at $7.50 per week, which covers up to five gallons of scraps. If you need more than that, you could upgrade to 10 gallons for an additional $2.50 a week. Although, King said, he understands that people will sometimes produce more scaps than usual (if they, say, have a party or something) and that there won’t be a penalty for producing a little bit more on occasion.
Since this service will likely be the most helpful for folks who might be on a fixed income, such as students or seniors, Full Cycle also offers an “income equity” discount, which provides the service for $5.25 a week. To qualify you need to provide proof that you receive benefits from Medical, Calfresh, SDI or unemployment.
To celebrate the launch of the new business, Full Cycle and partner Cooperation Humboldt will be hosting a bike party on the Arcata Plaza on Friday, May 21 at 6:30 p.m. The event will include a street-safe ride through town, ending at the Arcata Community Health and Wellness Garden on the corner of 11th and F Streets. Live music will be provided by a Humboldt favorite, Bandemonium and members of the Garberville Town Band.
According to a press release from Cooperation Humboldt, attendees are encouraged to “come dressed as farmers and vegetables.”
For more information or to sign up for the composting service, you can visit Full Cycle Compost’s website.