September 8, 2020 | Collection, Community Composting, Food Waste

Isla Vista Compost Collective

Photos courtesy of Isla Vista Compost Collective

Jacob Bider founded the Isla Vista Compost Collective (IVCC) in Isla Vista, California, a household food scraps collection and composting enterprise in the fall of 2017 as a project with the Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) Committee of Isla Vista (IV) Surfrider. Bider was a sophomore at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) at the time. “One of the main reasons I got involved was because I noticed that many students in Isla Vista did not have the opportunity to compost their food waste from home,” noted Bider in a blog on the Surfrider website. “When I saw that the IV Surfrider was hiring OFG interns, I applied knowing that the OFG team would be the ideal group to work with on a composting program. At one of our first meetings I proposed that we create a program for Isla Vista. Everyone was ecstatic about the idea, and so began the Isla Vista Surfrider Compost Collective.”

The program utilizes bikes, cargo trailers, and five gallon buckets to transport food waste to composting locations at community gardens. All food waste is collected on a weekly basis from households; clean buckets are swapped out for full ones. The collected food waste is sorted and weighed by Dirtriders, who then send out group messages to every household detailing what was included in the bucket incorrectly, and how much weight was composted. Typically, after a few weeks of utilizing this feedback system, Dirtriders see an improvement in household sorting practices. The program services 96 households and over 500 residents in Isla Vista. About 1,000 lbs/week are collected.

“A few months ago the program was acquired by Isla Vista’s local government, the Isla Vista Community Services District, after we raised over $50,000 in funding to continue it,” notes Bider, who graduated from UCSB and has moved back home to the Bay Area where he is considering setting up a similar program. Collection was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but resumed again this summer. “IVCC is so happy to be back and composting for the community this summer,” said a post on the District’s website. “In order to keep employees and participating houses safe and healthy all Dirtriders are equipped with gloves, mask, and proper sanitation during their shifts. To help them out, please leave your buckets out on your porch promptly for an efficient no contact pick up.”

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