Happy Earth Day! We wanted to reach out to one of our favorite partners here in Gallatin Valley that helps turn all our scraps into nutrient rich compost and diverting materials that would otherwise sit in a landfill and contribute to climate issues! We’ve been using Happy Trash Can for years and they provide such a simple, easy, affordable service that requires very little on our part. Here is our interview with Adrienne & Ryan!
Tell us about yourselves:
We are a husband/wife-run business, Adrienne & Ryan Green. Adrienne grew up in Bozeman & Ryan has come along for the journey from Florida. We met about 10 years ago and bonded over agriculture and environmental issues. Obviously, this partnership was meant to be!
How did this idea come about? (Adrienne) I was around when Bozeman only had curbside garbage pickups. I was in the recycling club at Bozeman High, and we would collect recyclables and take them to the Walmart parking lot recycling center. While at the time I didn’t think we would be starting a curbside organics recycling program in my hometown, I’m happy to see where we are now.
(Ryan) I had been working in sustainable agriculture and high-density composting for a long time, starting in 2008! For two years I worked with community compost in NYC, and that’s where the idea started forming. We came up with Happy Trash Can Compost in 2015 and never looked back.
What makes you unique compared to other compost services? Since we are the first comprehensive (food waste) composting program in the area, we have had to figure out every question every step of the way. Every aspect of our business is imbued with our hearts, minds, and personal style, from our daily operations to our name and logo.
We focus on having an accessible compost program and making quality & affordable compost for farmers and gardeners to use, truly closing the loop. That has been a day-1 mission. We have now supplied compost to many farms and gardens in the valley and nearby, and we hope that we show our subscribers how far their compost really goes (by staying local). We are super community-minded, and a big part of our business is education and community outreach.
How long does it take for goodies that you pick up to become the compost that customers can use in their yards? What is the process of the breakdown? We have designed our yard to compost the most effectively and efficiently. This is why we use a state-of-the-art static aerated pile system, by Sustainable Generations, a business founded by a fellow Montanan too. Currently, we haul about 20,000 pounds of food waste every week, and that mass enables us to reach benchmark temperatures to be considered an industrial compost facility. The scraps are unrecognizable after 7 days, and it’s about an 8-12 week process from start to finish.
What simple things can a consumer do to decrease their waste? Using our service! But besides that, just considering our consumer habits a little bit more goes a long way. Learning about the fork-to-farm side of the cycle is step #1. Many people don’t realize that food doesn’t break down in a landfill, instead, it becomes methane - which we do not want. Our compost service, or an at-home composting system like a worm bin, chickens, etc., can really help. Also, taking the time to reconsider plastic items and replace petroleum-based plastics with reusable items first and plant-based plastics, (PLA’s) second is also a really easy step to take.
What are some of the most ridiculous things you've seen people try to 'compost'? We try to compost anything possible, and nothing is too crazy! Whenever I see a compostable phone case or a compostable candy bag I always do a double-take but get really excited whenever I see a new compostable product around. Cut-up old clothes are one we are happy to take (100% cotton/natural fibers only). We compost a lot with Green Seams Designs and we take all of their furniture shavings and whatever natural fiber scraps waste they have.
Why is composting so important to our environment and community? Composting is one of many ways to mitigate climate change. The great thing about it is that it’s just so easy. When food waste is composted - it not only turns into a high microbial soil additive but the externalities, when properly composted, is a low level of CO2. When organic material is thrown out in the garbage and sits in a landfill, it breaks down anaerobically with a Methane output. Studies are now showing Methane is up to 70x worse than Carbon Dioxide, and is a big accelerant of Global Warming.
We are finding out more every day about the importance of soil health, and compost is a way to add healthy microbes back into the soil that will continue to grow and flourish.
How can they contact you and participate? Our website is www.happytrashcan.net, where anyone can signup for our service and find out more. We are also on Facebook and Instagram @Happytrashcan and call us anytime M-F at 406-570-0896.
Any funny bloopers or stories? At one of the wedding events we composted, a friend showed up in a Happy Trash Can costume! It was amazing. Other than that, you can see on Instagram how Ryan’s juggling progress has really blossomed when there is no shortage of new items to try!