My composting story: Peter Moutsos, Goodwin House

Peter Moutsos is director of Dining Services at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads.  He has worked at Goodwin House for three years and was instrumental in rolling out the program at Goodwin House.  He spoke to Compost Crew about his experience.

Did you have any experience with composting before Goodwin House?
I did. I worked at the Department of the Treasury and while I was there we started a composting program.  It made me aware that companies of all sizes can partner with local composting vendors to impact the environment.

Peter Moutsos photo

How did you prepare the Goodwin House staff for the composting program?
We worked with Compost Crew to do an initial training for our staff and set up designated areas with different color bins.  The majority of the compost comes out of capturing the organic waste in the main kitchen.  We use signs and labels to remind people, and composting is part of our operational training [for new hires].  

We set up a composting bin in the marketplace, a communal area and store, and residents can bring down their organics whenever they choose to.  We also have a bin in our art center, for the trimmings from floral arrangements the residents make.

Did you run into any challenges, and how did you overcome them?
Nothing traumatic.  Anytime you incorporate something new, it requires training and education.  The residents’ Green Team set up tables in the common area to show people which disposable items are compostable, and we shared Compost Crew’s list of what can go in the bins.  We bring the table back periodically as a reminder and to help educate new members of the community.

How has the volume of food waste recycled changed over time?
Since we’ve been in this COVID environment, we started a room service model in April.  Initially, when we started that the healthcare officials wanted us to use paper disposable items.  We ramped up the use of disposable, which really increased our compostable waste volume.  As things got a bit more stable, we started using reusable containers which can be run through the dishwasher and sanitized.  These containers can last up to a couple of years, and help cut down on waste.

What comes next?
The next challenge for us as a community is to move composting areas up to the residents’ floors.  We have set that for ourselves as a goal.  If we make it more convenient, we think we’ll get even more compost.  We will continue to grow this as much as we can.

Learn more about Goodwin House’s composting program.