I can’t believe what an incredible journey this past year has been (and not all of it was cute chicken content).
I started this year off with a wacky trip up to Thunder Bay to purchase the bobcat, where my dad and I travelled 1,700 km through -37C weather. We ended up spinning out on the side of the Trans-Canada Highway while 74 km from the nearest town. We pulled back onto the road after 35 minutes of shovelling snow away from the tires. It was the scariest moment of my life, and was only the beginning of a pretty tough year.
My New Year’s goal for 2019 was to grow GreenerBins and bring the composting movement to as many households and businesses as I could – but I had no idea that growth and expansion would come so quickly for us, and what that meant for me as a business owner.
Winter challenges hit hard: one of my compost piles completely froze solid, which meant scrambling to figure out how to handle the 250 households we were picking up from in the spring. We had so much composting to catch up on...and then we started our first Compost Return where we donated over 350 bags of compost to homes, schools, and community gardens across Windsor-Essex. Growth is such a privilege, and it’s everything I wanted, but it was also incredibly difficult to manage as a new business. Juggling the logistics of hundreds of stops per week and ever-increasing compost was a lot to manage.
We couldn’t stop the service to reevaluate; the show had to go on. As we considered moving locations, we continued to expand and welcomed 350 households, restaurants and businesses, schools, and some huge partners by the end of the summer. None of it was easy to juggle, but somehow, we managed. In October we relocated out to Essex, realized that we needed to hire on waaaaay more help (during 2019 GreenerBins went from a team of 3 to a team of 9!), and welcomed our feathery girls (the chickens) to the composting process. Running a farm has always been a dream of mine, and I never anticipated that I would be able to merge GreenerBins with yet another one of my big ideas.
None of this was easy – I’ve worked to exhaustion every single day of this year to make the business succeed, and it’s hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. 80 hour weeks were common; 100-hour weeks became the norm as we moved locations in the fall. I pushed my body to its breaking point, pushing through countless cuts, scrapes, soreness and exhaustion. I've worked through a hernia and tendinitis in both wrists. There were many times I wanted to quit and thought I could never pull through...but something always kept me going. That "something" is the positive impact that GreenerBins has on our community and the world.
During 2019 GreenerBins prevented over 200,000 pounds of food waste from entering the landfill. This is the equivalent of taking about 50 cars off the road...for an entire year, or planting hundreds of trees. We took in 94 chickens that had no place else to go, and we're working hard every day to give them a good life. We're gearing up for a huge compost return starting in the spring of 2020 that will enrich our local soils and grow healthy food for everyone. And at the farm, we're preparing beds and a greenhouse to start growing high-quality food in our high-quality compost to complete the food cycle loop from "Grow-it-to-throw-it".
I wanted to share how difficult this journey has been, because without this amazing support system and my incredible team, GreenerBins wouldn't have made it through this year.
But as hard as it has been, I’m so grateful for all of it because I know that the end goal is worth the work. I get to go home every day knowing the world is slightly better, Windsor-Essex’s corner of the earth is a little healthier, and we are one step closer to growing local food that will feed the community. My "WHY" has never been stronger: grow community, help the earth, and prove that a better world is possible, if only we have the courage to build it.
I’m thrilled and honoured that I get to do this work, and so grateful to everyone who has supported and been a part of the Greener story along the way. I wouldn’t be able to do this without all of you.
I have no idea was 2020 will bring for GreenerBins, but I know it will be absolute magic. Stay tuned for more pictures of our chickens, because I can't seem to stop posting about them. Here’s to a New (and Greener) Year!
Yours in Sustainability,
Founder of GreenerBins