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Leadership San Juan Islands Recycle at Tour de Lopez

Lopezians Brian Estey, Eric Blaser, Isaac Berg, and Jelte Endeavor, a quadruplet known as “The Plastic Pack”, describe their interest and passion in recycling and sustainability. They descended on the Tour de Lopez on April 28th to get a grip on recycling, outreach, and composting.

In the pouring rain, The Plastic Pack collected 83.4 pounds of pure food waste minus napkins, semi-compostable paper plates and cups from soaked participants from both the BBQ and bike rest stops.

Plastic Pack member Isaac Berg brandishes part of the spoils. Compost is like gold dust … but only if carefully ‘sorted at source’. The experience motivated Isaac to start a family worm bin at his home on Lopez.

Food waste was collected for farm animals and a household scale compositing facility to see what kind of volume could be generated. We wanted to know what impact we could have on the community if we rolled out community-scale composting across the county.

Not all compost is made equally, don’t ya know?

Meet Gnocchi, one Very Happy Customer at the Kalahari Junction homestead on Lopez

Now for some rocket science. 760 cyclists shed about 1.76 oz. per person at a single sitting. Add 4,500 total summer residents times 1.75 oz. x 3 meals a day and you get 1476.56 lbs. of food waste per day! That’s 43,410 lbs. a month. Granted, more careful analysis would still reveal the sheer mass of potentially biodegradable useful garden amendment or farm Animal fodder.

Issac’s personal experience seeing the worm bin on the farm inspired him to build one of his own. Now growing vegetables for his family in his back yard, he can add his own worm castings to his own vegetable beds for free and reducing his volume of garbage at the same time! How cool is that? Composting!

Now composting has a few challenges. For one, it needs to be away from your main living space because it may attract rodents. This can be alleviated by baiting, and composting in sealed prefabricated hard black plastic bins. Worms and enzymes added can speed up the process.

In worm bins virtually odorless, can be kept in a freeze free environment like a mud room, garage or out buildings like a pump house. Fascinating to watch how they devour food waste minus meats and fats. Worms sterilize and aerate the soil as they digest the organic matter. The by product is worm castings and liquid fertilizer is a gardener’s dream!

So, in the end, we were amazed how much food waste we collected and the potential to impact quantity of household garbage that is collected on the island. Composting at home is a substantial and worthy way of adding black gold to any garden or planter boxes can substantially reduce island waste and meet LSWDD Challenge of zero waste.

The Plastic Pack is available to help get a grip on composting and recycling at your island event. Contact


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