Edited by: Sarah Cedro, Residential Composting Analyst
Compost Crew’s community programs offer discounted rates for residents in a designated area. Today we are featuring Xin Yuen, who lives in Silver Spring. Xin is a wonderful example of how one person can inspire many others to take action. She started spreading the word in late February and within three weeks her area’s base rate split in half! During our conversation with her, Xin shared her experience starting her own community program with us, and conveyed how she was able to make such a big difference without prior community leadership involvement.
Compost Crew: Tell us about who you are and your involvement in your community
Xin: I am a highly normal person and not a community leader, so anyone can start a community composting program! My husband and I moved to our neighborhood almost two years ago. Having a baby soon after helped connect us to neighbors, community groups like Buy Nothing, and parenting groups. These groups helped foster a sense of community and belonging that we hadn’t experienced before as adults.
Compost Crew: Did you have any previous experience with composting?
Xin: I always wanted to compost and one of my first purchases upon moving to our own house was a tumbling composter. Unfortunately, it turns out that I am terrible at DIY composting and I ended up what basically amounted to a sad barrel of eggshells and leaves that never turned into anything better.
Compost Crew: What inspired you to recruit members of your community?
Xin: I found out about residential composting services and community programs in a discussion about environmentally friendly practices among a local group of professional moms. I was immediately interested but the services were cost-prohibitive. After talking with other neighbors and getting a sense that they’d also be interested in composting if it weren’t so expensive, I decided to try starting a program. It turns out that many community members I didn’t know felt the same, especially because they were cooking and eating at home so much more during COVID.
Compost Crew: What methods of outreach did you use?
Xin: I posted information on neighborhood Facebook groups and listservs. I wanted to lay out the specific benefits of signing up, point out how soon we could reach the next price point, and talk about why I personally was joining, so I went with longer messages.
Compost Crew: Any advice for other community champions?
- As a newer member of the community, I felt kind of self-conscious putting myself out there and posting about/emailing strangers about this. But it turns out so many people were waiting for an opportunity like this. “Don’t be scared to put yourself out there” is pretty trite advice but it really did help me.
- Based on the responses I got from my neighbors, they didn’t need much of a sell on the environmental benefits of composting. They knew the benefits but the cost prevented them from paying for a service. Focusing on the financial aspects and pointing out how soon we could be paying a very low rate if we collectively got more people on board really helped sway them.
- BE PREPARED FOR A LOT OF EMAILS. I was not. There were 2 solid weeks when my inbox was flooded with questions but they petered out soon as more people got on board.
Compost Crew: What helped/didn’t help?
- I contacted other compost services but the easy-to-use website, dashboard, pre-prepared materials, and Sarah [Compost Crew’s community program coordinator]’s responsiveness made it an easy choice to go with CC
- Emphasizing that so many more things can be composted with CC than can be done at home
Thank you so much, Xin, for sharing your experience creating a community program and for your dedication to composting!
If you are interested in starting your own community program today, or have any questions, complete this short form and we will get in contact with you.