Circle Compost: Fairmount Residents Bring Compost Service to Penn’s Garden and Beyond
When David Bloovman finishes an apple, he doesn’t throw it in the trash. He thinks of the leftover apple core as part of a consumption process or, more importantly, as organic waste to be composted by his business, Circle Compost.
The business picks up organic waste from residential and commercial locations around the city once a week. For $15 a month, customers living in houses or apartments receive a 5-gallon bucket to store organic waste in, and businesses can purchase more at a higher price. 100 percent of the compost is donated to local farms in Philadelphia.
The business’s current service area is Girard Avenue to the North, Pattison Avenue to the South, Front Street to the East and 33rd Street to the West, but they’re expanding northbound because of the recent addition of more customers.
Circle Compost opened in June 2016 and had its first customer by August. The business began as a dual effort between Bloovman and his wife Michele, but the team expanded in October when Sam Holloschutz, a fellow Fairmount resident, reached out to Bloovman via email.
The two met for coffee and banh mi sandwiches and, a week later, Holloschutz was officially a part of the team as the chief sustainability officer.
“Sam coming on board has made a huge difference for our company,” Bloovman said. “He’s just been instrumental in getting us from where we were on day one to where we are now. I know he’s also instrumental in moving us forward.”
Holloschutz does a “little bit of everything” for the business, Bloovman said, including marketing, writing blog posts about sustainable living and picking up the waste from the customers, 90 percent of which is done on bike. So far, he said he’s ridden about 150 miles on the pick-up routes and he estimates that if he had used a car, he would have created about one ton of carbon dioxide.
“It’s been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” Holloschutz said. “This is really my main priority, just because the mission is so important.”
Outside of Circle Compost, Holloschutz is a block captain of the 800 block on N. 29th Street and has been the Fairmount Civic Association Neighborhood Improvement Committee Chairperson for two years.
He also volunteers for the organization Keep Philadelphia Beautiful and visits schools to talk about the impact of composting in hopes of partnering Circle Compost with a school.
While working on the board of the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART Association), Bloovman saw a pie graph explaining the composition of materials that end up landfills and a huge slice was of organic materials.
He explained that seeing that graph was an “ah-ha” moment that led to the development of Circle Compost. Putting organic waste in landfills creates methane gas which is up to 80 times worse than carbon dioxide, he said.
“Not to mention the cost of putting in landfills and the cost to municipalities, states and the government when they constantly have to find more land for landfills,” Bloovman added.
Expansion-wise, Bloovman said it’s essential that the business remain hyperlocal. Changing negative perceptions about composting, like it having a bad smell or attracting vermin, for the next generation of Philadelphians is a primary goal of Circle Compost.
“For everyone out there, food waste shouldn’t be seen as trash because it’s not trash,” he said. “We want them to be seen as valuable, resource-rich raw materials.” •