The name of this local small business could not be more appropriate for the message behind their action – Let Us Compost: starving landfills since 2012. Kristen Baskin is the creator of this business, a curbside composting service in Athens that collects the compost of local businesses and residential homes. Composting is a process that takes food leftovers and turns them into fertilizer. Baskin’s business provides a compost bucket and biodegradable bags, and run a weekly pick-up and re-supply of bags. This small business consists of three vital parts and three vital people: Mikey the operator, Corey the driver and Kristen the business organizer. Together, the three serve 140 residential homes and 35 businesses in the Athens area.
Baskin has transformed the unglamorous job of picking up people’s leftovers, such as banana peels and coffee grinds, into a creative way of helping the environment. Baskin comes from a long line of family members who all started their own businesses, which explains her entrepreneurial spirit. “I see it as a way to pursue the change you want to see in the world,” she said. Baskin attended graduate school at Future Generations, where part of the program entailed pursuing a project that students believed would help the community in some way. After traveling to India and observing the piles of trash polluting the streets, Baskin realized that those same piles of trash existed in her own town, but were just not as visible and instead in a centralized location: a landfill. She felt moved to do something about it. The piles of trash in India were an every-day reminder that something should and could be done to stretch beyond the limitations of a landfill in her own home to create something more sustainable and practical. After growing up in a home that composted, Baskin was familiar enough with the process that she was able to find a way to not only dispose of her own compost but also the compost of the people in her community.
Several local restaurants use Baskin’s service and they have nothing but good things to say. Anna Dondero, owner of Dondero’s Kitchen on Milledge Avenue, has been using Baskin’s composting service and her café serves as a model for the other businesses that use Let us Compost. Not only does Dondero's have a composting bin in the kitchen for the staff to use, it also has a bin in the cafe area for its customers. Dondero believes that the composting service really does encourage her customers to compost. “The customers use the bin we put in the café, and we really do produce so much compost that I could not imagine not using Kristen’s service,” Dondero said.
The Last Resort Grill, another local restaurant located on Clayton Street, uses Baskin’s service and the general Manager, Jeneane McGuire says she could not be more pleased with it. “The process is so easy for our staff and it has just become part of our routine now,” McGuire said. Baskin’s success has been spreading to many local businesses and restaurants downtown and around the Athens area.
According to the 2013 Athens-Clarke County Recycling and Waste Reduction analysis, Athens-Clarke County alone produced 67,000 tons of trash in just 2013. The recycling facility has helped relieve the compilation of trash immensely, and Baskin’s composting service has helped even more. Athens responded positively to Baskin's efforts to create a healthier and less-contaminated city, and her business continues to grow. Let Us Compost has expanded significantly, in the past couple of months, and Baskin's vision for the future expands with her business. Part of her vision includes an addition of CityPod, an easy way for the people of Athens to take their composting to a central location where it can be turned into a finished product, fertilizer, in 6-8 weeks. She is also working on a way to create a simple solution to train people how to compost. “I want Athens to be a town where composting is just as prevalent as recycling or trash pickup. If everyone got on board with this, we could really create a much more sustainable community.”