Shannon Sanchez has long appreciated the natural world, but the birth of her twins made her environmental concerns an even higher priority.
“Becoming a mother last year has only given me greater purpose in protecting and improving the earth for our children and future generations,” the Kentlands resident said.
One way Sanchez identified to contribute to that objective is composting—“the practice of turning waste into soil enhancer … an effective method of diverting household garbage and repurposing it as organic material to be used for new vegetation growth.” Hoping to engage the community where she has lived since 2008, Sanchez brought her ideas to the Aug. 15 Kentlands Community Association (KCA) board meeting.
“Composting is an accessible and simple way for my family to reduce our impact on the Earth and turns our ‘trash into treasure,’’’ Sanchez observed. “Once a household adopts composting, it is truly astounding to see how much of what was previously considered trash is actually compostable.” Summing up her personal experience, Sanchez said, “Our landfill-bound trash has dramatically decreased since we began composting, and this gives me peace of mind.”
About 20 people attended the meeting, said Sanchez, “many of whom came to learn about and support the composting initiative that I was presenting.” Their questions “centered around the logistics of the program, including what materials can be composted (examples are food scraps, paper products, coffee and tea grounds and yard trimmings), how the collection service operates and who will oversee the program.”
Sanchez found that the “audience was enthusiastic about the proposed opportunity to participate in composting,” noting that “some attendees already subscribe to a composting service and wanted to share their experiences as support for community implementation. They expressed confidence that an organized, community-run program would be quickly adopted by their neighbors given the convenience and simplicity of the service.”
“Others in attendance,” she added, “took the opportunity to learn more about composting and program logistics. Many would
like to begin composting but until now, weren’t sure of how to do so.”
Sanchez’s presentation, which included an overview of facts—like a recent Environmental Protection Agency study that found 50 percent of all waste in landfills is compostable—and a proposal of how to implement it in the Kentlands, convinced the board. “We secured a $5,000 earmark in the 2020 KCA budget to support the program as an outcome of the meeting,” Sanchez said.
Two models for composting were discussed. The first is a weekly curbside pickup in which the community association co-funds individual resident service at a $15 cost per month per household (based on 200 residents). This would include a five-gallon bin and compost delivery once a year. The lower-cost alternative would be community collection at a single centralized drop-off location for residents, which would cost $30 per pickup of a 64-gallon bin. Both options include bin liners, disposal/hauling of compostable materials and cleaning the bins.
The next step, said Sanchez, is for community members “to form a project team to work in partnership with the selected composting service provider (Key City Compost), and develop a model that best addresses the needs of our community with respect to accessibility, convenience and cost.” The team, which she said will “spearhead with support from community members, the City of Gaithersburg and Key City Compost,” will produce a formal business proposal to the KCA for approval,
with implementation of service to begin in January 2020.
Sanchez asked that interested neighbors contact her “to express interest and/or to share insights and feedback” via NextDoor.