Composting was a way of life for Katy Eakin, until she got married and moved into her husband’s Travis Heights condo. With no green space to compost in and reluctant to add biodegradable waste to a landfill, Eakin froze her compostables and drove them, on occasion, to her grandfather’s farm. With such fierce dedication to decomposition, it comes as no surprise that Eakin would launch Green Bucket Composting, a progressive solution to a growing urban need.
Far from being profit-motivated, though, Eakin’s pursuit was born of necessity. When she came up with the concept, she and her husband had taken over operations at a farm that’s been in her family for over 100 years. “The thing is…it’s a cattle ranch right now,” she says with a smile. “And I’m the hugest hypocrite; I’m a vegetarian. So I’m trying to get away from raising feed cattle.”
Eakin started a few large garden plots on the farm and quickly realized that she would need more compost than she could generate.
The increased demand for compost paired nicely with Eakin’s eco-conscious sensibilities, and an idea was born. “I realized I could offer composting services to people who don’t have the ability to keep their waste out of the dump,” she says.
The Green Bucket Composting model is simple: customers receive a reusable compost container that includes an odor-fighting filter and biodegradable bags. All vegetable waste, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, bread, pasta, paper and more get tossed in—everything but meat and dairy products. Compost is picked up once a week with Eakin’s biodiesel truck, and customers have the choice of a one-month trial membership or a six-month or year-long subscription. Whatever they choose, the service ends up costing around $4 per week.
Eakin’s clientele is diverse. At first, she assumed that her primary customers would be apartment dwellers and other people without access to yards. However, she was surprised to discover that “a lot of the people who use the service have yards of their own.” One of her regular customers is a woman who tends bar. “[The customer] told me that she’d have her own compost, but she’d have to be out in the dark, turning the pile,” Eakin says. Green Bucket also collects compost from the Environmental Defense Fund, and offers the service to other offices. She even collects shredded paper for chicken bedding.
Once the compost gets out of the city, Eakin puts it all into a pile at the farm. Her 50 Ameraucana hens and 15 Indian Runner ducks get first dibs on the goods, pecking through the pile, eating whatever they want. “Eventually I want to be making enough compost so that I can make it available for customers to use in their own gardens,” says Eakin. “My goal is to make composting accessible to everyone in Austin, regardless of where they live.”
Green Bucket Composting