Composting by the Bootstrap

Rebeca Oliveira

Bad economy + garbage = good idea

Andy Brooks just went with a good idea: People want to compost, but don’t have the time, space or know-how, so he’d do it instead for a measly $8 a week.

The mechanics are simple: Once signed up, a customer receives a two-gallon bucket and a set of composting guidelines. Every week, or two weeks, or 30 days, Brooks comes by, collects the full bucket and leaves behind an empty one. Ten to 15 weeks later, customers can have fresh compost brought back to them. Whatever doesn’t get used, Brooks will donate to community gardens.

“I’m working with a handful of folks in JP that are eager to secure compost donations. I’d like to donate the lion’s share to the 195 Boylston St. Community Orchard. I’m super inspired by the folks behind this project and their efforts to improve…Egleston Square,” the 13-year Jamaica Plain resident told the Gazette in an e-mail.

The impetus for Bootstrap Compost came to Brooks while he was visiting his sister in Montpelier, Vt. for the holidays, when Brooks heard of a compost collection service called Earth Girl Compost. By Jan. 1, he was designing a flyer for Bootstrap Compost. The next day, he was posting the flyers. The day after that, he was answering e-mail inquiries.

“It all happened very fast. I didn’t deliberate on it at all. I just seemed like Boston was ripe for a service like this,” Brooks said. “My interest to be more proactive about my job situation and less-than-fruitful job search really put a fire under my feet.”

That’s where the name Bootstrap comes from, Brooks said: “This company was my way of empowering both myself and the community.”

“I try to do what I can for the environment, and it’s always bothered me that in the winter I stop composting because I am on the 3rd floor, it’s cold, and I can’t find my compost bin under the snow,” JP customer Donna Tremonte told the Gazette.

“I have also never done anything with the compost I have, it just sits back there. For $8 a week, I can feel good about not throwing away my compostables, and I get awesome compost for my garden,” she added.

Brooks uses his bike and the T to make pick-ups and deliveries in order to keep pushing the green aspect of the business. So far, he said no one has made a scene over his lugging waste on the T.

“All the buckets come equipped with a lid. I could be carrying cookie dough for all my fellow T riders know,” he said. “I spend a lot of hours on [collections], especially in this weather. Going out to Somerville, for instance, can take half a day by the time I visit each destination.” 

As the current sole employee of Bootstrap, Brooks is optimistic. He already has over 40 customers all over the city, though only five in JP.

“I need JP to step it up,” he said. He is available for pick-ups “each and every weekday, depending upon a customer’s needs and schedule.”

“Andy is dependable and makes it so easy. It’s awesome,” Tremonte said. “Bootstrap Compost makes it easy to be green for people who don’t have the time to do it themselves.”

“This service resonates with me personally. I derive a lot of satisfaction from harnessing something useful out of something that appears useless and aim to make the process as convenient and enjoyable as possible for other Bostonians,” Brooks said.

Those interested in finding out more or signing up can contact Brooks at [email protected]. A website is “forthcoming, hopefully in the next few weeks,” Brooks added.

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