MetroFocus: September 26, 2022

PERIL & PROMISE SPECIAL

New York City Department of Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch gives us a peek at the launch of the nation’s largest curbside composting program.  Beginning October 3, all residential buildings in Queens will receive weekly collection of leaf and yard waste, food scraps, and food-soiled paper products, which is the first time than an entire borough will receive this service.  By removing more trash off the streets, could the program also be a solution to the city’s growing rat problem?  Commissioner Tisch will be here to tell us.

In New York City, where one-third of garbage is compostable, there is a woeful shortage of composting services — especially for the one in 15 people who live in public housing.  To prevent that trash from ending up in landfills and contributing to global warming, Domingo Morales has made it his personal mission to spread the power of composting to all New Yorkers. He started the organization “Compost Power” that maintains a growing number of public housing composting sites across the city.  Tonight, he joins us to discuss how this grassroots campaign is helping combat global warming and promote inclusivity.

Peril and Promise is a public media initiative from The WNET Group, reporting on the human stories of climate change and its solutions. You can learn more at pbs.org/perilandpromise. Major funding for Peril and Promise is provided by Dr. P. Roy Vagelos and Diana T. Vagelos with additional funding from Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, and the Estate of Worthington Mayo-Smith.

 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, NEW YORK'S TRASH SOLUTION, COMPOST.

THE CITY COMMISSIONER GIVES YOU A LOOK AT THE NEW PILOT COMPOSTING PROGRAM TO LEAD NOT JUST NEW YORK, BUT THE NATION GET GARBAGE OFF THE STREETS.

THEN, MEET THE YOUNG ACTIVIST FIGHTING TO BRING COMPOSTING TO PUBLIC HOUSING.

THAT AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

> STARTING THIS FALL, WE'RE BRINGING GUARANTEED WEEKLY CURBSIDE COMPOSTING TO THE ENTIRE BOROUGH OF QUEENS.

THIS WOULD MAKE NEW YORK CITY HOME TO THE LARGEST CURBSIDE COMPOSTING PROGRAM IN THE NATION.

THE LARGEST.

IN THE NATION.

GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

THAT WAS MAYOR ERIC ADAMS ANNOUNCING THE LAUNCH OF NEW YORK'S LATEST COMPOSTING PROGRAM, SET TO START THIS OCTOBER.

IF SUCCESSFUL, THE PROGRAM WOULD GET NEW YORK CITY ON TRACK TO RECYCLE AND REUSE AS SOIL NEARLY A THIRD OF THE TRASH THAT NOW ENDS UP IN LANDFILLS.

BUT THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME THE CITY HAS TRIED TO GET NEW YORKERS TO COMPOST THEIR TRASH.

THE PREVIOUS PROGRAM WAS SUSPENDED BACK IN 2020 DUE TO THE PANDEMIC AND THEN CUT ENTIRELY BY THE INCOMING MAYOR TO SAVE MONEY.

AT THE TIME THE MAYOR PROMISED TO MAKE COMPOSTING MORE EFFICIENT, AND AS HE SEES IT, MORE DRAMA FREE.

JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT HOW I THE CITY'S NEW COMPOSTING PROGRAM DOES THAT AS PART OF OUR PERIL AND PROMISE INITIATIVE REPORTING ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND ITS SOLUTIONS IS THE CITY'S SANITATION COMMISSIONER.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

LET'S START WITH BASICS IF WE CAN.

WE'LL TURN THIS INTO A TUTORIAL, IF YOU WILL.

EXPLAIN TO US EXACTLY WHAT COMPOSTING IS.

, SO COMPOSTING IS THE PROCESS BY WHICH ORGANIC MATERIAL IS RECLAIMED FROM THE WASTE STREAM.

APPROXIMATELY ONE-THIRD OF THE WASTE STREAM IN NEW YORK CITY IS ORGANIC MATERIAL.

SO THAT MEANS LEAF AND YARD WASTE, FOOD SCRAPS AND FOOD SOILED PAPER.

RIGHT NOW, TOO MUCH OF THAT GOES TO THE LANDFILL EVERY DAY, WHERE IT SITS AND RELEASES METHANE GAS.

INSTEAD, STARTING OCTOBER 3rd, WE WANT TO LET EVERY RESIDENT IN QUEENS TAKE OUT, SEPARATE OUT THEIR ORGANIC MATERIAL, AND WE'LL PICK IT UP WEEKLY, AND INSTEAD OF SENDING IT TO LANDFILL, WE'LL -- [ INAUDIBLE ].

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT THE BENEFITS.

WE'VE HEARD CONVERSATIONS OFTEN TIMES ABOUT THE BENEFITS TO SOCIETY AS A WHOLE, BUT WE'RE ALSO HEARING THE CITY SAY THERE ARE BENEFITS TO INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS HERE.

EXPLAIN TO US WHAT THE VIEW IS ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF THE PROGRAM.

SO ONE OF THE I THINK COUNTERINTUITIVE BENEFITS TO THE PROGRAM, IN NEW YORK CITY WE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH RATS.

THIS WILL GET THE STUFF THAT ATTRACTS THE RATS OUT OF THE TRASH BAGS.

SO REALLY THE FOOD WASTE IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT HERE.

AND BY TAKING THE FOOD WASTE, SEPARATING IT OUT FROM THE TRASH AND SETTING IT OUT IN BINS WHERE RATS CAN'T GET TO IT, WE THINK WE CAN MAKE A REAL DENT ON THE RAT PROBLEM.

AND LET ME ASK YOU, GO BACK A LITTLE BIT.

YOU STARTED TO TOUCH ON IT.

THAT IS THE PROCESS, THE COLLECTION, AND THEN THE COMPOSTING PROCESS ITSELF.

GIVE US A SENSE HOW THAT'S GOING TO TAKE PLACE.

SURE.

EVERY DAY IN NEW YORK CITY, WE COLLECT OVER 24 MILLION POUNDS OF TRASH AND RECYCLING.

SO, IN QUEENS IF WE TAKE A THIRD OF THAT OUT AND SEPARATE IT OUT IN BROWN BINS -- EVERY QUEENS RESIDENT CAN GET A BROWN BIN FOR FREE FROM US, OR THEY CAN USE THEIR OWN BIN.

ONCE A WEEK THEY'LL TAKE THEIR LEAF AND YARD WASTE, THEIR FOOD SCRAPS, THEIR FOOD SOILED PAPER, PUT KNIT OUR BIN OR A BIN THAT THEY PURCHASED THEMSELVES.

AND THEY LEAVE IT IN FRONT OF THE CURB JUST LIKE THEY WOULD THEIR CRASH AND RECYCLING.

WE'LL COME PICK IT UP.

YOU MENTION QUEENS.

WHY IS THIS PROGRAM STARTING JUST IN QUEENS?

SO, FIRST, QUEENS IS THE MOST DIVERSE COUNTY IN THE COUNTRY, AND SO WE REALLY WANTED A PROGRAM THAT WOULD WORK FOR ALL NEW YORKERS.

AND THEN WITHIN QUEENS THERE'S DIFFERENT PARTS OF IT THAT WILL SEE DIFFERENT REAL BENEFITS FROM THE PROGRAM.

SO EASTERN QUEENS, FOR EXAMPLE, WE SEE A LOT OF YARDS, A LOT OF YARD WASTE, A LOT OF LEAVES WE'RE EXPECT OUT OF EASTERN QUEENS.

IN WESTERN QUEENS, RATS ARE A REALLY BIG ISSUE, AND WE ALSO HAVE A LOT OF COMMUNITIES IN WESTERN QUEENS CLAMORING FOR A COMPOSTING PROGRAM.

IS THERE A TIMETABLE YET FOR WHEN THE CITY MIGHT ANTICIPATE EXPANDING THE PROGRAM THE OTHER BOROUGHS?

NO TIMETABLE YET.

I MEAN, THE PROGRAM HASN'T LAUNCHED YET.

IT LAUNCHES ON OCTOBER 3rd.

AND WE'VE SAID, THE NEXT COMPOSTING PROGRAM THAT WE LAUNCH IN NEW YORK CITY HAS TO BE OUR LAST.

AND SO WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE GET THIS RIGHT, GET IT RIGHT IN QUEENS IN A WAY THAT WORKS FOR NEW YORKERS, AND THEN ONCE WE'VE GOTTEN IT RIGHT IN QUEENS WE'LL THINK ABOUT WHERE AND HOW TO EXPAND.

WE'VE ALSO SEEN IN THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT THE COMPOSTING PROGRAM IS GOING TO BE SEASONAL.

WHAT'S THE REASONING BEHIND THAT?

, SO I THINK IT WILL BE SEASONAL AT FIRST.

SO WE'LL LAUNCH IN OCTOBER.

IT WILL RUN THROUGH DECEMBER.

WE'LL TAKE A PAUSE FOR THE WINTER AROUND CHRIS MAST TIME, JANUARY, FEBRUARY.

AND WE'LL RESTART IN MARCH.

I THINK THE KEY DRIVER OF THAT WAS WE DON'T WANT TO BE WASTEFUL.

WE DON'T WANT EMPTY TRUCKS.

AND WHAT WE'VE SEEN AND LEARNED FROM OTHER CITIES THAT HAVE LAUNCHED COMPOSTING PROGRAMS IS THAT IN THEIR INFANCY, LEAF AND YARD WASTE DRIVES THE TONNAGE.

SO LEAF AND YARD WASTE REALLY IS MINIMAL DURING THE WINTER MONTHS, WHICH IS WHY WE'RE GOING TO TAKE A BRIEF THREE-MONTH PAUSE FOR THE WINTER AND WE'LL RESUME AGAIN IN THE SPRING.

I MENTIONED IN THE DESTRUCTION THAT THE MAYOR HAD MADE REFERENCE TO THIS PROGRAM HOPEFULLY BEING A LITTLE MORE DRAMA FREE.

WHAT DID HE MEAN BY THAT?

THE OLD PROGRAMS IN NEW YORK CITY WERE REALLY HARD TO USE FOR NEW YORKERS.

THEY HAD TO GO THROUGH SO MANY STEPS EVEN TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROGRAM SOME THE FIRST THING THEY HAD TO DO WAS RAISE THEIR HANDS AND FILL OUT A FARM AND EXPRESS THEIR INTEREST IN THE PROGRAM.

AND ONLY THE COMMUNITY DISTRICTS AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF EXPRESSED INTEREST WERE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE.

THEN ONCE THEIR COMMUNITY DISTRICT WAS CHOSEN, THEY HAD TO SIGN UP TO BE PART OF THE PROGRAM.

SO IT WASN'T, LIKE, AUTOMATIC TRUCKS ROLLING TO THEIR HOUSE EVERY WEEK.

AND FINALLY, ONCE THEY EXPRESSED THEIR INTEREST, SIGNED UP FOR THE PROGRAM, TO USE IT EACH WEEK, THEY COULD ONLY USE A BROWN BIN THAT WAS PROVIDED BY NEW YORK CITY.

WHAT WE'VE DONE IN THIS PROGRAM IS SAID, ALL RIGHT, WE ARE TAKING ALL THESE HURDLES AWAY.

THIS NEEDS TO BE SIMPLE AND EASY TO USE FOR NEW YORKERS.

NO MORE EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST.

NO MORE RAISING YOUR HAND AND SIGNING UP.

AND YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE TO USE OUR BROWN BIN.

USE OUR BROWN BIN IF YOU WANT.

WE'LL SEND IT TO YOU FOR FREE.

BUT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO USE OUR BROWN BIN, USE A BIN YOU HAVE.

IF IT'S LEAF AND YARD WASTE, JUST SET IT OUT ON THE CURB.

PUT A BAG IN THE BIN, DON'T PUT A BAG IN THE BIN.

WE'RE TRYING TO BE EASY BREEZY TO MAKE THIS STRAIGHTFORWARD AND SIMPLE FOR NEW YORKER.

WE WANT NEW YORKER TOS THINK ABOUT THIS AS A SERVICE WE ARE PROVIDING TO THEM, NOT A SERVICE THAT THE CITY IS ASKING THEM TO PROVIDE BACK.

DO YOU ANTICIPATE MUCH IN THE WAY OF ANY KIND OF PUSHBACK?

PUSHBACK CAN MEAN ACT TIFF PUSHBACK OR PEOPLE SAYING, I JUST DON'T WANT TO GET INVOLVED RIGHT NOW.

SO, IN THE LEAD UP TO THE LAUNCH OF THIS PROGRAM WE'RE DONE A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF OUTPREACH.

WE'VE DONE PAID MEDIA AND COMMUNITY ETHNIC MEDIA FOCUS ON QUEENS.

WE'VE DONE TRADITIONAL MEDIA, PRESS CONFERENCES AND BROWN BIN GIVEAWAYS.

WE'VE ALWAYS BEEN CANVASSING, WHICH MEANS WE HAVE SANITATION WORKERS AND PATIENT EMPLOYEES AND PROFESSIONALS GOING DOOR TO DOOR IN QUEENS TO TEACH QUEENS RESIDENTS ABOUT A PROGRAM.

AND IN THAT VAN CASSING, WE SEE A FEW THINGS.

FIRST WORK SEE A LOT OF EXCITEMENT.

PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING THIS VERSE.

OBVIOUSLY THERE'S MORE EXCITEMENT IN SOME NEIGHBORHOODS THAN OTHERS.

IN AS TO HAVE ASTORIA THEY HAVE BEEN CLAMORING FOR A COMPOSTING PROGRAM.

SO WE'VE SEEN ENERGY OUT OF CERTAIN COMMUNITIES OTHER COMMUNITIES THAT HAVEN'T NECESSARILY BEEN CLAMORING, IT'S CLEAR THE EDUCATION WE'RE PROVIDING BY GOING DOOR TO DOOR IS GOING A LONG WAY.

FIRST, INFORMING PEOPLE ABOUT THE NEW SERVICE, HOW IT WORKS.

AND I THINK WHEN NEW YORKERS HEAR HOW SIMPLE AND STRAIGHT FOURTH IT IS FOR THEM TO USE, THEY BECOME REALLY INTERESTED ABOUT IT.

LAST WEEK I WENT OUT AND DID SOME CANVASSING MYSELF OUT IN EASTERN QUEENS, AND THAT WAS A COMMUNITY WHERE I THINK THE EDUCATION WAS REALLY IMPORTANT, AND IT'S GREAT TO SEE WHEN NEW YORKERS LEARN ABOUT IT HOW EXCITED THEY ARE FOR IT TO START.

LET ME GO BACK FOR A MOMENT TO THE PROCESS WE'RE TALK ABOUT.

YOU EXPLAIN THE BINS AND THE COLLECTION PROCESS, AND YOU TALKED ABOUT IN THE INTRODUCTION THE IDEA OF THE ANTICIPATION, THE HOPE THAT INSTEAD OF PUTTING IT IN LANDFILLS IT'S GOING GO SOME PLACE ELSE.

WHERE IS THAT SOME PLACE ELSE?

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THIS ON THE BACK END OF THAT PROCESS?

THANKS FOR THE QUESTION.

I THINK THE BIG IDEA HERE IS WE WANT TO DIVERT THIS MATERIAL FROM THE LANDFILL, FROM LANDFILLS, WHERE IT SIT THERE IS FOR YEARS AND PRODUCED METHANE GRASS, WHICH IS A HARMFUL GREENHOUSE GAS.

AND INSTEAD WE EITHER WANT TO USE COMPOSTING, WHERE WE TURN IT INTO SOIL THAT WE THEN GIVE AWAY TO NEW YORKERS, USE FOR PARKS, SELL TO CONTRACTORS.

OR WE WANT TO MAKE RENEWABLE ENERGY OUT OF IT.

SO, IT'S REALLY TWO PLACES WHERE IT GOES, EITHER TO A COMPOSTING FACILITY WHERE IT BECOMES SOIL, OR OUR WASTE WATER TREATMENT PLANT WILL TURN IT INTO RENEWABLE ENERGY.

HOW WILL THIS PROGRAM WORK IN CONJUNCTION -- OR PERHAPS A BETTER QUESTION -- AS A SUPPLEMENT TO OTHER SMALLER PROGRAMS THAT ARE OUT THERE IN NEW YORK CITY BUT THAT ARE VERY ACTIVE NONETHELESS.

WE HAVE A GREAT PROGRAM THAT WE'RE DOUBLING DOWN ON NOW.

WE HAVE SMART BINS IN COMMUNITIES IN THE CITY, AND THOSE SMART COMPOSTING BINS, THEY'RE BIG ORANGE BINS.

THEY'RE ON STREET CORNER.

AND NEW YORKERS CAN TAKE THEIR COMPOSTABLE MATERIAL, THEIR FOOD SCRAPS, FOOD SAIL PAPER, THEIR LEAF AND YARD WASTE, AND THEY CAN DROP IT IN ONE OF THE SMART COMPOSTING BINS, AND THEN WE COME AND SERVICE THOSE BINS.

WE'RE NOW ROLLING THOSE BINS OUT NEAR NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

YOU KNOW, THOSE TEND TO BE VERY CENTRAL AND COMMUNITY, SO PEOPLE PASSING BY, KIDS GOING TO SCHOOL, PARENTS DROPPING THEIR KIDS OFF AT SCHOOL CAN BRING THEIR FOOD SCRAPS FOR EXAMPLE ALONG WITH THEM AND JUST DROP IT IN THE BIN.

WE HAVE UNDER 50 THAT ARE OUT THERE RIGHT NOW.

THEY HAVE BEEN WILDLY SUCCESSFUL.

WE GET REALLY PRISTINE ORGANIC MATERIAL IN THEM.

THEY'RE FILLED EVERY DAY.

AND SO WE ARE NOW DOUBLES DOWN ON THAT PROGRAM, AND WE ARE ROLLING OUT ABOUT 250 SMART COMPOSTING BINS ACROSS THE CITY.

REALLY IN AREAS THAT ARE NOT GOING TO BE GETTING IN THIS FIRST INSTANCE THE DOOR TO DOOR COMPOSTING PICKUPS.

SO WE HAVE BINS ROLLING OUT IN BRONX, CENTRAL BROOKLYN, AND WE'RE TRYING TO SPREAD THE LOVE, SPREAD THE COMPOSTING LOVE AROUND THE CITY.

WITH WE KNOW THAT OFTEN TIMES CHILDREN CAN BE INSTRUMENTAL IN DRIVING CHANGE BY SAYING TO THE PARENTS, NOW, WE SHOULD BE DOING THIS WITH THIS.

IS THERE AANTICIPATION YET OF GETTING THIS INFORMATIONAL PROGRAM INTO THE SCHOOLS TO HELP PUSH THE NOTION OF WHY THIS IS SO IMPORTANT?

YES.

WE ANNOUNCED THIS YEAR THAT WE ARE GOING TO BE ROLLING OUT ORGANIC SEPARATION IN EVERY NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOL IN ALL FIVE BOROUGHS.

THERE ARE OVER 1,000 PUBLIC SCHOOLS, AND 11 MILLION NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS.

AND SO BY ROLLING OUT ORGANIC SEPARATION IN ALL SCHOOL CAFE CAFETERIAS, WE AIM TO GIVE NEW YORK CITY'S SCHOOL STUDENTS TO HELP THEM BUILD THE MUSCLE MEMORY, SO IN TURN THEY GO HOME AND SAY TO THE PARENT, I'M SEPARATING OUT MY FOOD SCRAPS IN SCHOOL.

WHY DON'T WE DO THIS AT HOME?

CAN'T TELL YOU HOW MANY PARENTS I'VE COME ACROSS WHO HAVE TOLD ME THAT THEIR LITTLE ONES ARE THE ONE WHO IS COME HOME AND ARE PUSHING THIS IN THE HOUSEHOLD.

TODAY WE'VE ROLLED THIS OUT IN ABOUT HALF OF THE NEW YORK CITY SCHOOLS, AND WE'RE GOING TO DO THE OTHER HALF OVER THE NEXT TWO SCHOOL YEARS.

LAST GOOD QUESTION.

I GOT A LITTLE LESS THAN A MINUTE.

BUT ARE YOU SEEING IN YOUR ROLE AS A COMMISSIONER AND CONVERSATIONS WITH OTHER CITIES THAT ARE STARTING TO DO THESE SAME TYPE PROGRAMS?

WE'VE LEARNED A LOT FROM OTHER CITIES.

THERE ARE A BUNCH OF CITIES IN CALIFORNIA THAT HAVE VERY SUCCESSFUL PROGRAMS.

TORONTO HAS A VERY SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM.

AND WE'VE LEARNED A LOT FROM THEM, AND THAT IS, IF YOU START BY FOCUSING ON LEAF AND YARD WASTE, THAT STUFF IS REALLY EASY FOR PEOPLE TO SEPARATE OUT.

YOU CAN USE THAT AS -- THAT MATERIAL TO DRIVE EARLY ADOPTION.

RIGHT.

WELL, COMMISSIONER, IT SOUNDS LIKE A MARVELOUS PROGRAM GOOD LUCK WITH IT.

AS YOU SAID, CAN ONLY BRING GOOD TO EVERYBODY INVOLVE LD JESSICA TISH, THANK YOU.

GOOD LUCK WITH THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

> IN A CITY WHERE ONE-THIRD OF ALL GARBAGE IS COMPOSTABLE, MOST TRASH ENDS UP IN LANDFILLS, WHERE IT RELEASES METHANE AND CONTRIBUTES TO GLOBAL WARMING.

OUR NEXT GUEST MADE IT HIS PERSONAL MISSION TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT.

DOMINGO MORALES GREW UP IN NEW YORK CITY.

HE DISCOVERED A -- ON HIS OWN INITIATIVE, HE STARTED COMPOST POWER, AN ORGANIZATION THAT MAINTAINS A GROWING NUMBER OF PUBLIC HOUSING COMPOSTING SITES ACROSS THE CITY.

HERE'S DOMINGO EXPLAINING WHAT HE'S TRYING TO DO.

I WANT TO BUILD A COMPOST SITE AND HELP THAT COMMUNITY STAND ON THEIR FEET SO THEY CAN TAKE OVER IT AND I CAN WALK AWAY AND BUILD MORE COMPOST SITES.

THAT'S WHAT COMPOST POWER IS ABOUT, GIVING THE POWER TO THE PEOPLE.

NOT ONLY AM I REDUCING THE WASTE THAT GOES TO LANDFILL AND GENERATES METHANE EMISSIONS BUT I'M CREATING A RESOURCE.

I WANT TO HIT THE AREAS THAT SANITATION, DSNY MISS THE SPOTS IN NEW YORK CITY THAT WANTED TO COMPOST BUT DIDN'T HAVE A FOOD SCRAP DROPOFF NEARBY.

JOINING US AS PART OF OUR PERIL AND PROMISE INITIATIVE, REPORTING ON THE HUMAN STORIES OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND ITS SOLUTIONS IS DOMINGO MORALES.

WELCOME.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

LET'S TALK ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THIS.

AND I MENTIONED THAT AS A YOUNG MAN -- YOU'RE STILL A YOUNG MAN, CERTAINLY, BUT YOU BECAME PASSIONATE ABOUT THESE ISSUES AND WORKING ON THIS.

I ALSO READ THAT WHEN YOU WERE INDEED A YOUNG MAN, YOU DID NOT LIKE GERMS, YOU DIDN'T LIKE DIRT, WHICH MAKES IT AN INTERESTING QUESTION THEN, HOW DID YOU BECOME THE CHAMPION OF COMPOSTING IN NEW YORK CITY?

YEAH, I MEAN, I HATED THE THOUGHT OF GERMS.

I REALLY DIDN'T LIKE THE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION BECAUSE OF HOW DIRTY IT CAN BE IN NEW YORK CITY.

MY FAMILY MEMBERS WOULD DRINK FROM MY CUP AND I WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO DRINK THAT ANYMORE.

I ALWAYS HAD A FEAR OF GERMS AND I HATED FARMING.

I JUST HATED BEING AROUND BUGS.

WHEN I START IN THE A PROGRAM CALLED GREEN CITY FOREST IN 2018, THEY SORT OF JUST THREW ME UNDER THE TABLE.

THEY WERE LIKE, HERE YOU GO, YOU'RE GOING TO FARM IN A PUBLIC HOUSING COMMUNITY.

YOU'RE GOING WORK WITH FOOD SCRAPS.

I WAS WORKING WITH ROTTING FOOD.

AND IT REALLY -- IT WAS HARD FOR ME TO GET USED TO WORKING IN THESE CONDITIONS, BUT WORKING WITH MY MENTOR AT THE TIME, DAVID BUCKLE, HE ACTUALLY SHOWS ME THE IMPORTANCE OF THE GOOD GERMS, YOU KNOW, THE FUNGUS AND THE BACTERIA THAT WERE ESSENTIAL FOR CREATING LIFE.

AND SUPPRESSING THOSE DISEASES THAT I WAS AFRAID OF.

SO REALLY IT WAS THE EDUCATION AND THE HANDS ON TRAINING THAT GOT ME AWAY FROM THAT, UGH, I'M AFRAID OF GERMS.

AND NOW I LOVE GERMS.

IT TOOK A LIFE OF ITS OWN AND NOW I'M TEACHING PEOPLE THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPOSTING AND WORKING WITH THESE GERMS.

WE OFTEN HEAR THE NOTION OF HOW ENGAGED A CONVERT CAN BE IN VARIOUS AREAS AND CLEAR I THINK YOU FIT THAT DESCRIPTION OF SOMEBODY WHO SAID NO, NO, NO, TO, WOW, I WANT TO DO THIS.

YOU MENTION TEACHING.

HOW IMPORTANT IS THE EDUCATION KPOEBT OF WHAT YOU'RE DOING HERE AND WHAT COMPOST POWER IS DOING?

IT'S IMPORTANT.

WHENEVER I TALK ABOUT COMPOSTING IN NEW YORK CITY, THERE'S A LOT OF SYSTEMS THAT ARE IN PLACE THAT ARE CENTRALIZED, AND WE HAVE, LIKE, THE BROWN BIN PROGRAM WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION, WHERE THEY PUT A BIN IN FRONT OF PEOPLE'S BUILDINGS AND ONCE A WEEK YOU PUT YOUR SCRAPS IN THE BIN AND IT GOES AWAY.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THAT AND WHAT WE DO IS YOU'RE GIVING US HANDS-ON TRAINING.

YOU'RE GIVING ME FOOD SCRAPS.

IT TAKE A LOT OF WORK.

TAKES PEOPLE PITCH FORKING, SHOVELING, FOOD SCRAPS, BLENDING IT.

TAKES MONTHS TO TURN INTO A PRODUCT THAT WE CAN USE TO REBUILD OUR LAND, BUT THROUGH THAT PROCESS WE'RE ABLE TO CHANGE PEOPLE'S BEHAVIOR BECAUSE THEY SEE HOW MUCH WORK GOES INTO IT.

THEY SUE HOW MUCH STAFF WE NEED TO PROCESS ORGANIC MATTER AND WE SEE IT AS WASTE.

WE CAN'T CHANGE THE BEHAVIOR OF THE AVERAGE RESIDENT WITHOUT GIVING THEM THE INFRASTRUCTURE TO COMPOST BE THE EDUCATION NECESSARY TO DO IT.

ONCE YOU HAVE THE INFRASTRUCTURE AND EDUCATION, THAT HANDS-ON TRAINING, THEN AND ONLY THEN CAN AN AVERAGE RESIDENT START TO CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOR IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL HOUSEHOLDS.

AND EDUCATION CAN HAVE A NUMBER OF COMPONENTS TO IT.

WHAT DO YOU SAY TO SOMEBODY WHO SEEMS TO BE INTERESTED IN THIS?

AND YOU EXPLAIN THE PROCESS THE WAY YOU EXPLAINED IT TO US, AND THEY SAY, OKAY, I UNDERSTAND THIS, BUT WHAT'S THE BIG PICTURE?

WHAT'S THE BENEFIT HERE FOR US DOING THAT OTHER THAN, SURE, GETTING RID OF THIS, MOVING IT FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER?

HOW CAN IT BE HELPFUL TO US?

ONE THING IS IF EVERYBODY WAS COMPOSTING THE ORGANIC WASTE IN THE LOCAL FACILITY, IN THEIR YARD, THEN WE CAN REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF TRUCKS TRUCKING WASTE THROUGHOUT THE CITY.

WE CAN REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF ORGANIC WASTE GOES TO A LANDFILL.

WHEN ORGANIC WASTE GOES TO A LANDFILL, IT GENERATES METHANE WHICH CAN BE 80 TIMES MORE OPPONENT THAN REGULAR CO2.

THEY CAN SLOW THE RATE OF CLIMATE CHANGE BY 30%, AND THAT'S SOMETHING PEOPLE REALLY DON'T REALIZE IS IT REGENERATES OUR SOIL, ALLOWING US TO GROW FOOD IN SOIL THAT MIGHT BE CONTAMINATED WITH LEAD, ARSENIC.

WE CAN BUILD RAISED BEDS, GROW FOOD IN LOCAL COMMUNITIES.

SO WE'RE REHABILITATING OUR SOIL.

WE'RE DIVERTING WASTE AND REDUCING THE AMOUNT OF GREENHOUSE GASES THAT WE'RE PRODUCING WITH OUR WASTE.

AND THEN ON TOP OF THAT, WE'RE FEEDING PEOPLE.

ALL GOOD BENEFITS.

YES.

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU'VE DONE IN TERMS OF SETTING UP AND HOW YOU'VE SET UP THE VARIOUS COMPOSTING SIGHTS AROUND THE CITY.

SO, THE GREAT THING ABOUT THE SIGHTS THAT I HAVE IS I'M PARTNERED WITH GREEN CITY FOREST, WHICH IS THE PROGRAM THAT THREW ME INTO FARMING IN THE FIRST PLACE.

WHAT THEY'RE DOING IS GROWING FOOD IN PUBLIC HOUSING COMMUNITIES ON PUBLIC HOUSING LAND AND THEY'RE GIVING THAT FOOD AWAY TO RESIDENTS FOR FREE.

SO WHAT I WAS ABLE TO DO WAS I WAS ABLE TO UTILIZE THAT FARM, BUILD A COMPOST COMPONENT WHERE WE'RE TAKE ALL THE OR BEGAN, WASTE OUT OF THE FARM, BUT WE'RE ALSO TAKING FOOD SCRAPS FROM RESIDENTS THAT COME ONCE A WEEK TO PICK UP FRESH VEGGIES THEY CAN EAT.

WE CREATE A BARTER SYSTEM.

COME GET YOUR FOOD FROM THE FARMERS MARKET AND GET YOUR FOOD SCRAPS.

WE BUILD A THREE BIN SYSTEM, A WOODEN STRUCTURE WITH THREE DIFFERENT BINS THAT HAVE DIFFERENT STAGES OF COMPOST.

FIRST STAGE, FOOD SCRAPS MIXED WITH CARBON STAGE MATERIAL.

SECOND STAGE, IT GETS UP TO 250 DEGREES CELSIUS.

YOU'LL SEE STEAM COMING OFF IT.

THIRD STAGE, YOU'LL SEE EARTHWORMS, PILL BUGS, BIODIVERSITY, AND THAT'S THE MATERIAL WE USE TO APPLY COMPOST TO THE CAMPUSES IN WHICH WE OPERATE.

WE HAVE FIVE COMPOST SITE ON PUBLIC HOUSING LAND, AND ONE SITE ON PRIVATE LAND WITH PARTNERSHIP WITH TWO TREES MANAGEMENT IN WILLIAMSBURG, AND THAT'S OUR PRIVATE SITE WHERE WE DWRUS BRING LARGE GROUPS OF YOUNG ADULTS TO GIVE THEM THE TRAINING THEY NEED TO MANAGE THE SMALLER SCALE SITES THROUGHOUT THE CITY.

DO YOU ENVISION THIS AS MUCH MORE OF A GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT?

OR DO YOU SEE THIS EVENTUALLY BEING SOMETHING THAT GOVERNMENT TAKES OVER OR SOME COMBINATION OF THE TWO?

HOW DO YOU SEE IT?

WELL, RIGHT NOW IT'S A GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT.

EVERY TIME NEW YORK CITY FACES FINANCIAL HARDSHIP, THEIR SUSTAINABILITY GOALS TAKE A HIT, AND POLITICIANS PUT IT ON THE BACK BURNER UNTIL THEY CAN FIND THE MONEY TO DO THOSE PROGRAMS.

WHAT WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO IS WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO UTILIZE GRANDS, UTILIZE FUNDRAISE, UTILIZING THE FOOL FROM THE NEIGHBORHOODS, THE RESIDENTS AND WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO KEEP IT CONSISTENT.

SINCE COMPOST POWER STARTED WORKING WITH GREEN CITY FOREST IN LATE 2020, WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO KEEP THESE FOOD SCRAP DROPOFFS CONSISTENT.

WE HAVEN'T SHUT DOWN ANY OF OUR PROGRAMS.

THE IDEA IS WE KEEP IT GRASSROOTS, BUT IN ORDER FOR THIS TO WORK WE HAVE TO WORK WITH THOSE LARGE-SCALE COMPOSTERS, WITH THE NEW YORK CITY COMPOST PRAJT, WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION.

IT'S GOING TO TAKE THAT CENTRALIZED SYSTEM THAT SANITATION HAS, THE DECENT RALIZATION THAT COMPOST POWER HAS, OTHER NONPROFITS THROUGHOUT NEW NEW YORK CITY WORKING TOGETHER TO GET THE GOALS.

IT'S GOING STAY GRASSROOTS BUT WE'LL DEFINITELY TAKE CITY FUNDING IF THAT'S SOMETHING THEY WANT TO GIVE US.

QUICK LAST QUESTION.

GOT ABOUT A MINUTE.

SOMEBODY'S WATCHING THIS AND SAYS, IT'S INTERESTING.

SOUNDS IMPORTANT.

I WONDER HOW I CAN GET INVOLVED.

WHAT'S THE ANSWER?

THERE'S MANY PROGRAMS YOU CAN GET INVOLVED WITH.

IF YOU GO ONLINE AND LOOK UP NEW YORK CITY COMPOSTING YOU'LL FIND A LOT OF OUTLETS.

FOOD SCRAP DROPOFFS IS A KEYWORD IF YOU WANT A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN ACTUALLY JUST BRING YOUR FOOD SCRAPS AND YOU KNOW THEY'RE GOING TO TAKE IT TO A COMPOST FACILITY AND IT'S GOING TO BE RECYCLED.

YOU CAN VISIT THE COMPOST POWER COMPOST SITES THAT'S ON OUR WEBSITE, SO COMPOST POWER NCY.ORG HAS A LIST OF SITES WE DO HAVE, AND YOU CAN VISIT THEM.

JUST REACH OUT TO THESE DIFFERENT PARTNERS THROUGHOUT THE CITY.

SEND A MESSAGE THROUGH INSTAGRAM, THROUGH EMAIL.

LET US KNOW YOU WANT TO GET INVOLVED.

ANOTHER WAY IS JUST EVERYING YOUR WASTE AT HOME.

THAT'S THE FIRST STEP CREATING THAT BEHAVIOR.

THAT FIRST STEP.

AGAIN, THE FOUNDER OF COMPOST POWER.

GOOD WORK.

WELL DONE.

AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

YOU TAKE CARE.

AND GOOD LUCK MOVING FORWARD.

ALL RIGHT, YOU AS WELL.

THANK YOU.

BE WELL.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

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