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High School Entrepreneurs Start Composting Business

High School Entrepreneurs Start Composting Business

Natasha Gabbay ’10
Web Managing Editor

At the end of last June, Casey Richardson ’10, Venetia Stanley ’10, Molly Pieper ’10 and Sasha Berns ’10 began their own business venture, a composting service called Soil Yourself Composting.

The idea sprouted from Richardson’s research paper in which she studied urban agriculture. She was fascinated by the topic and further researched modern environmental studies.

“[Richardson] came up with several ideas on how we could help change our town’s environment and we chose to start a composting business,” Stanley said.

Pieper agreed with Richardson’s proposal as well. Understanding the substantial benefits that composting can produce, Pieper wanted to pursue the idea.

“Composting, as opposed to simply throwing away food scraps, greatly reduces amounts of landfill, which in turn reduces atmospheric [carbon dioxide] and other green house gases,” Pieper said. “Additionally, this was an opportunity for me to do my part for the Westport community as well as the environment.”

Another perk to this self-initiated business was its flexibility. In this economic downturn, the girls found the prospect of being their own bosses quite appealing.

“Well this year it was especially hard to find summer jobs, so we figured that this was a good way to help the environment while earning a few extra bucks. Also, since we worked for ourselves we could pick our own hours which was pretty convenient,” Berns said.

In order to get their business going, the girls had to gather a client list. Between fliers, feature articles and mass e-mails, they were able to get between 15 and 20 families to use their services for the summer.

Furthermore, they had to convince companies to donate enough buckets for their clients to use each week for the storage of their compost materials.

“We had to drive all around the Westport area looking for places to donate buckets that we would give to the families,” Berns said. “We went to all the local bakeries, Stop & Shop, Whole Foods and other places like that.”

The base of their operation was at Richardson’s house. After collecting the food scraps every Monday, they would take them back and prepare them for the composting process which took anywhere from six to 10 weeks. The composting process resulted in a nutrient rich soil supplement.

Although it may not have been the most glorious of jobs, the girls still enjoyed what they were doing and were successful in their goal, which was to deliver a bucket of the soil supplement to each customer.

“Even though we were called garbage men by several of our friends and family, we all had a great time and lots of laughs,” Stanley said.

The initiative proved not only beneficial for those who used the Soil Yourself Composting services, but also for the girls’ consciences.

“It was definitely a worthwhile experience. We accomplished something that was different and we found out that we can actually do something to help our town, even if it is as small as picking up a few peoples’ food once a week,” said Stanley.

The Soil Yourself Composting initiative did not end at the close of the summer. A few of their clients have continued to compost and the girls still pick up their buckets weekly.

Composting is a spreading phenomenon and the Soil Yourself Composting crew believes it is a worthwhile endeavor that will one day be a part of every day life in Westport, and maybe even Staples.

“Actually right now I am working with a group of students to establish a composting system for Staples, so hopefully something will be established by the end of the school year,” Berns said.

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