Veggie Scraps: Composting with Earthie Crunchie

Food: Interviews & Features

Incredibly, not a slur for people who wear Birkenstocks, Earthie Crunchie is a solution for the waste-conscious Salt Laker who wants to keep their food waste out of the landfill but doesn’t have the space to compost it themselves.

“I want to make it as easy as possible to repurpose food scraps, but also address specialty items that Salt Lake recycling can’t take,"Hector Alvarado says.
Photo: John Barkiple

Working in sales and traveling for business over the past decade, Founder/CEO Hector Alvarado’s life and travels were invariably tied to single-use plastics and landfill-bound disposables. Anyone who has spent time on the road accumulates little bits of plastic bullshit and trash—often including unused and unrequested silverware packages from take-out or drive-thrus and cups and bottles that you hold on to “just in case.” I throw all the above on the floor of my passenger seat because that is where it goes. “Most people will sacrifice sustainability for convenience,” Alvarado says. “It started to weigh on me mentally and left a bad taste in my mouth.”

“I want to make it as easy as possible to repurpose food scraps, but also address specialty items that Salt Lake recycling can’t take.”

It’s difficult to not become disillusioned by rising temps, shrinking lakes, poison dust and a billboard on I-215 reminding you vaguely that “Utah is in a drought. Use less water.” Who, me specifically? What about the golf courses? Placing the onus on the individual while policy-makers steadily push forward on a literal inland port is laughably absurd, but for young idealists like myself, it can feel even worse to give up entirely. Waste is connected to every facet of the climate crisis, and for many, separating out their trash and recycling is the most accessible form of action they take.

Eliminating food scraps from our waste stream is an extra step that’s particularly important. As our landfills rapidly fill, the organic matter we throw in begins to decompose anaerobically, producing methane gas, a compound that warms the atmosphere far worse than CO₂. “Composting keeps these materials out of the landfill and returns the nutrients back into the soil rather than heating the planet,” says Alvarado. But even for the most eco-conscious among us, it can be nearly impossible to practice sustainability on an individual level due to constraints from living situations, mobility issues or limitations of their county’s waste services.

Earthie Crunchie steps in here to make composting attainable for everyone. Fill your Earthie Crunchie bucket with vegetable scraps and set it out on the curb just like your other waste bins, and it’s picked up and replaced with a fresh, clean bucket weekly, biweekly or monthly. Alvarado does the hard work for you, dumping all this organic material into a pile that he turns over regularly, adding necessary, carbon-rich “brown” material (e.g. horse manure, leaves) to balance out the nitrogen-rich veggie scraps. This creates healthy and happy compost, a key ingredient in any productive garden. After a season of collecting and turning the pile, the compost is redistributed back to each Earthie Crunchie subscriber, closing the loop and letting everyone reap what they sow. “I wanted to make a community base where we can support one another, reintroduce that compost back into homes or donate it to local community gardens,” says Alvarado.

“Composting keeps these materials out of the landfill and returns the nutrients back into the soil rather than heating the planet.”

When you set your Earthie Crunchie bin on the curb, you can also include soft plastics, glass and batteries—materials that are difficult to recycle that Alvarado collects in bulk to be disposed of properly. “I want to make it as easy as possible to repurpose food scraps, but also address specialty items that Salt Lake recycling can’t take.” Right now, Earthie Crunchie will even recycle your chopsticks from take-out, and come fall, they will begin collecting dental products (toothbrushes, floss picks, etc.) to recycle, as well. Find more information at earthiecrunchie.com.

Stay Crunchie!

Read more about local food:
Makaya Caters: A Taste of Haiti in Salt Lake City
Pies The Limit: Savory and Sweet and Everything Nice