Michael Martinez Interview, LA Compost
LA Compost is an amazing organization that provides compost hubs throughout Los Angeles, with an emphasis on community. Aside from composting, their eight hubs serve as educational centers for locals to participate in monthly workshops about the regenerative process of composting, and importance of diverting organics from landfills. At Brothee, we’ve very easily composted over 1.8K lbs of organic waste with LA Compost. Check out our social awareness initiatives to learn more about our environmental efforts in this space.
Michael Martinez is the Founder and Executive Dir. of LA Compost. His vision for a community-wide ecosystem of compost hubs throughout LA is really hitting its stride. Hubs range from schools to museums to community gardens, dedicated to strategically keeping food waste out of landfills, enriching gardens with nutrient rich soil, and building communities through composting. Read more on his views about the role composting can play for individuals and communities.
You’re clearly excited about composting. What keeps you motivated and how do you inspire others?
The process of compost is extremely exciting! It calls for materials that are broken, undervalued, and sometimes considered waste, and when brought together, it transforms into a life giving material that is selfless and constantly gives of itself to the next seed, seedling, or established plant.
What keeps me going is how the communities that make up LA can one day embody this process of compost. We are all broken in some way (some of us cover it up better than others) and when broken people come together to partake in something that transcends their individual self, life-giving experiences take place. When an individual experiences something that is life giving, they want it again. I don’t inspire, I simply do my best to create the spaces for the people of LA to connect with their food, soil, and neighbor.
How can composting be empowering for individuals and inspire a personal lifestyle of sustainability? How does it influence grocery shopping, cooking and eating?
Composting can be empowering simply because it changes the way one looks at food. There has been plenty of talk about where our food comes from and how it’s labeled but very little conversation about the “after the table” experience. When we throw food away we are tossing away resources and shipping it out of our communities to rot somewhere else. Composting allows an individual to participate with each and every stage of food. The process then becomes garden/farm to table, table to compost pile, compost pile back to garden/farm.
Why is it important to teach children and families about composting/gardening?
Today it seems that we are more connected to our phones than our neighbor and the food/water that keeps us alive. Composting and gardening allows for children and families to come together and participate in an activity that teaches one to be patient and not always in control. It also allows for individuals to try new fruits, vegetables, and herbs that they may not have tried in the past. The process of gardening and composting forces one to slow down and realize how beautiful it really is when one decides to spend their time outside.
How can businesses, large and small, benefit from composting?
If food can still be eaten, we always recommend partnering with food recovery agencies to get it to those who need it most. If it can no longer be consumed, businesses can compost at the local level to ensure that these resources can be kept within the same community where they operate. Ensuring that food scraps are composted rather than simply sent to landfills benefits all parties involved.
Trash can often be viewed as a valueless commodity, so how do you turn waste into “black gold?"
Our community compost hubs serve as an educational platform to teach people that food and yard scraps are not trash or waste, but a valuable resource that can be used for most landscapes. These hubs work within the community using different compost systems to transform food and yard scraps into beautiful compost. The finished compost is then distributed to the same individuals who brought their scraps and helped turned or sifted the piles.
Our work allows people to understand the entire story of food and allows them to connect with those living within their community. We believe that composting is a beautiful, regenerative process that is collaborative, self-giving, and exemplifies the type of city we want to embody.
LA Compost wants to build 10 new compost hubs that invest in food and people, by creating compost. They are asking for funding to help build 10 new compost hubs across Los Angeles. These 10 new hubs will divert thousands of pounds of organics from reaching landfills while also keeping the finished compost in the community where the food was originally consumed. The ten new hubs will be placed in the following communities: Highland Park, Lincoln Heights, Pomona, Venice, San Pedro, Eagle Rock, Panorama City, South Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Westwood. By strengthening their current compost hubs and building 10 more in new communities across LA, they will continue to decrease the amount of food waste that is sent to landfills and increase the amount of quality compost that we can distribute to local communities throughout Los Angeles. Support them today,and be sure to drop off your organic waste to any of their hubs.
Join their team of volunteers and learn how to compost, operate a hub, direct and coordinate an on-site workshop depending on their needs. Check out open positions here.
There are many different ways to partner with LA Compost. You can provide locations, volunteer as a group, or help us gather resources. Some of their partners are Natural History Museum LA, Patagonia, The Juice, Kore Kitchen and Brothee! Become a partner!