Blog #4 Earth Week Compost Challenge-High Point Barber Shop


As Humans we are all swarms of bacteria, connected by other single and multi-cells, blood, sweat, elements we find all around us, DNA, empty space, fibers, nerves, electrical impulses, gases, and myriad of other amazing things that make a whole person.


With all that in mind, we are also made of hair. That’s right, hair.  Long strands of protein that come from deep within the layers of our skin. Functioning as a thermal protection, sensor, and screen for particulates from entering certain mucous membranes on our body. So that’s it, right. It grows, we style it, we cut it, and we toss it.


But wait, there’s more! According to The Rodale Book of Composting, “6 and 7 pounds of hair can contain as much nitrogen as 100 to 200 pounds of manure.” Boom, end of story, everyone use your hair in your garden, right!? Why not, well, our hair isn’t as simple as being just hair. We also dye it, treat it, and clean it with all sorts of chemicals, and we have been conditioned for generations to throw it out like regular waste.


Did you know that it is also used as an animal deterrent? That’s right, throw your hair or pet hair around areas where animals are messing with your garden, and presto, they get scared away.


So fast forward to pre-Earth Day/week on April 13th, when I started High Point Barber Shop on their Compost Challenge Week. The goal, to start the journey to answer “Why not try composting?” The task was to try out composting for a week and see what that brings. What that brings or looks like is a complicated question in an industry that is used to throwing away this product that is readily available on a daily basis, but thrown away on the daily too.


The goal, to not only expand the industry idea of what is waste within the hair grooming industry, but the patrons of said industry. How do you do that? It is as simple as a bucket, and human perseverance to tell yourself “Today, this bag isn’t emptied into the trash. No. Today, we compost!” I know from experience that this isn’t an easy journey, and the rubberband reminder around the wrist can help in stinging oneself into sustainability. However, to make this journey of self awareness of our own waste stream, demands strong individuals.


That brings me to High Point Barber Shop again, and to Jared, my barber/consigliere of all things business and goings on within Richmond. I told him about my business when I first started coming to the shop in 2015. But I figured in March of 2016, maybe the shop would be open to trying out composting for a week as part of being involved in Earth Day, and the growing environmental consciousness present in Richmond.


They said yes, we agreed to a week, and the first bucket was dropped off. The shop went about their business, and at the end of each day or the beginning of the following day, the contents of a bag of hair, and barber paper products were placed in a Compost RVA bucket. This takes time, and breaking from the standard “I put waste in the trash, because that is what we do as a society” that we each need to break ourselves from in order to start the conversation of sustainability on a short term basis let alone as a lifestyle change. Sometimes you forget, that’s ok, push on, learn from the mistakes, and in the end you have a new routine.


The crowning moment in the experiment for myself, occurred one morning as I made the pickup. I came in, said hi to everyone, and shuffled to make the process, quick, clean and painless. When out of from a customer I caught this question as the door closed behind me, “What is this?” To which the quick response was, “We’re going green,” from one of the barbers. It is the “We” that really stands out, and immediately fills me with hope and passion to move on in my mission.

Blog #3 TEDxRVA

Nerves, lots of nerves running. Checking through my list of of gear. Making sure I have bins ready to display prominently this year. Last year I had a single space, and I didn’t get quite the traffic I was looking for then. This year will be different.


Got to the space outside the Carpenter Theatre, and nerves are subsiding. The traffic is kind of crazy, but I’m optimistic. I get a space surprisingly close considering the change in parking for the event as a whole. J and his employees show me around, and let me know what the setup will be like this time. My suggestion of bins wherever there is regular trash and recycling goes through.


Luckily the morning is relatively cold, because I am nervous, a little sweaty, and trying to push through and set things up as I see fit. I make a kind of stand-o-buckets showing off the Compost RVA logos. Moving around the space and getting an idea for the breaks/meals throughout the day, the planning starts in my head, “How much time will I have? I need this much time in between each break? Make sure there are enough buckets? Don’t forget the drink area of the tent?” All these things go rushing around, but I want to make sure everything is covered.


Time is ticking, everything is setup. The lobby doors open, and out flows what seems to be a never ending line of people, and the TEDxRVA meals begin for the day.



Blog #2 King of Pops Garden Start

Potting soil? Check. Compost? Check, and check, because I am mixing a vermicompost blend with a fungal/bacterial blend I have been working on for over a year. So technically 3 checks. Planters? Sustainable check. That's a thing, right? Plants? On the way. Weather? It's Virginia, so that will be a tentative check.


This list represents the first business to benefit from Compost RVA's “Make compost, now grow with it!” program. King of Pops, my first food based client under Compost RVA is getting a flower garden for the side of their business, and a rooftop herb garden. Let that sink in a minute. I know, I thought it was pretty cool too. Wait for it though. The planters being used are from previous produce orders from previous tenants using King of Pops kitchen space, and damaged King of Pops' parasols will be used to decorate the planters.


I tell you this in all honesty, creating this garden space is the culmination of countless green project ideas, Pinterest entries, and hours of contemplating how to feed the composting sustainability bug. What bug is this? Trust me, it is that itch, that urge that every composter or gardener gets when they start growing things from seed or scrap into something usable, something edible, something transformational.   


Blog #1


This being my first blog for Compost RVA, I suppose I should start with why I started composting, or telling you to start composting to join the growing movement. However, that's not how this blog is going to start. Instead, I am going to tell you not to compost, at least not before answering some questions about your own waste mark.


Let's start with your favorite food. And I'm talking your “I can't go a week without it” kind of food. So let's say you are a runner and banana's are your fuel of choice, and let's say you have at least one a week. So that's 52 bananas a year. Now let's look at your banana peels. For the sake of this example I found an online figure estimating one peel equaling 68 grams, which leads us to 7.7 lbs of peels, just peels a year if you have one a week. Now change that to two bananas a week making 15.4 lbs a year, and then to three a week. Do you see how something as simple as a banana peel adds up over time.


Composting helps us process this feeling of guilt toward our waste stream, while also creating future possibilities, future life for more things to grow. And as this compost grows and changes into something nourishing and beautiful for our soil system, hopefully each of us evolves as well into someone nourished and inspired by the fact that waste does not exist in nature. And thus waste as it has been seen in our lifetimes should be redefined into something constructive in our own lives.