One of our core values at Impact Hub is sustainability. Many of our members – from Bullfrog Power and The Natural Step, to Bioregional and Ottawa Centre EcoDistrict – hold this as central to their mission and their operations. Ottawa is the first Bullfrog Powered Impact Hub in North America, and proud of it. However, there is one area in which we aren’t able to crack the nut – office compost. If you work in an office building in Ontario and think that your office composts – you’re likely wrong. That’s right, you might be in a LEED certified building, but it doesn’t compost. When we signed the lease on our space we were not aware of this challenge.
You can imagine our reaction when we discovered that office buildings in Ottawa aren’t set up for composting. We wanted to demonstrate that as a social enterprise, we could show the way. We put out a challenge to our members to come up with composting solutions, spoke to our landlord, and it all seemed like it could head in the right direction towards finding a solution.
Except…our experiments failed. The landlord couldn’t do anything, our vermicompost didn’t work out, and in the end we had a mixed solution – a member would take home the compost on a weekly basis. It pains me to say that retail outlets are fitted with compost services but office buildings are not.
Learning and way forward
We struggled for a year and a half on how we might find a solution. We had a ton of what not to do’s. In 2014, as we were designing ‘Launch Some Good’, our social enterprise startup weekend, we thought, “we have this massive civic issue around office composting, why not make this the theme?” And that’s what we did. We hosted 2015 Launch Some Good with the theme “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” It was a huge success in raising awareness about office building composting. We had some influential community leaders who recognized that something had to be done at the municipal and provincial levels. We aren’t yet sure when there will be a solution, but there are a number of ideas coming from Launch Some Good that show promise. In the meantime, one of our Hubbers has graciously agreed to take home the compost as much as possible.