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COVID-19 Bootstrap Closure: Week 2

By Sara Mack                                                                                                                                                          Communications Intern at Bootstrap Compost, Inc.

Over the course of the past two weeks, it feels like the world has been turned upside-down. As we mentioned in our last blog post, at Bootstrap we have been devoting all of our energy toward taking care of our Bootstrap family, and we have been blown away by the support we’ve received from our community along the way. 

Local media outlets like WasteDive have featured Bootstrap as one of the small-scale composters taking precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19.

 In addition to management working remotely to keep ourselves and our families safe, we’ve been keeping busy to make sure that, whenever it is safe enough, Bootstrap is able to return to serving our clients safely and better than ever.

To get some insight into the inner workings of some of this behind-the-scenes progress, I got a chance to chat on the phone with Jonathan Nankof, our Director of Operations. Jonathan has been with the Bootstrap team for a number of years, and he started out as a driver so he understands the in’s and out’s of Bootstrap pretty well. 

Our conversation started by reinforcing why we felt that it was imperative to make the difficult choice to close, even when it wasn’t necessarily mandated by the government. As Jonathan shared with me, it really forced the core Bootstrap admin team to evaluate what it really means to be an essential business. According to Jonathan, in our case, the most “essential” thing we could do would be to limit the spread of the virus, and to be leaders in the industry in order to encourage similar businesses to take the steps necessary to keep their people safe like we are. 

For this reason, closing up shop was the responsible thing to do, even though, as haulers of solid waste, we are in a gray area regarding CDC requirements for essential businesses. Jonathan reminded me on the phone that the goal of keeping only essential businesses open is to limit the number of businesses that are running, and, at the end of the day, our service runs differently than municipal waste collection — it requires more interactions with the waste and waste vessel (our buckets!) than is traditionally expected on both the part of the customer and our drivers. Based on conservative estimates of how transferrable the virus is, we knew we could pose a risk, and it goes without saying that maintaining business as usual is not nearly as important as the safety of everyone involved. 

Like we shared in our Instagram post from March 25th, we’ve been spending this time straightening up the warehouse while social distancing including taking care of loads of farm-accrued laundry, some necessary worm care, and completely clearing our bucket bay by taking over 5,000 pounds of organics to our partnering farms. 

In addition to all of this, though, there are some big things in the works on an administrative level. During my call with Jonathan I learned that in the midst of our temporary service “hiatus”, he is definitely still keeping busy. Between keeping in contact with customers to convey necessary information, monitoring the situation via the news in order to make decisions in a timely manner, and working with a software developer to produce new software for admin, staff, and drivers, there’s definitely a lot of moving parts to keep track of. On top of all of this, our Bootstrap team is working hard to figure out the best way to keep the warehouse clean and staff safe for the future so when it’s time to reopen, we are beyond ready. In my opinion, one of the most exciting things about working at a small but rapidly growing business like Bootstrap is that there is a constant need to adapt to changes in order to improve, and this interruption in our normal routine is no different. We can’t wait to be back soon, but, until then, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, and keep brainstorming creative ways to use that food waste!

P.S. — my favorite way to condense my waste is through creating my own vegetable stock to use in my cooking. If you save certain veggie scraps like carrot peels, onion skins, and celery in your freezer, DIY veggie stock is as easy as cleaning the scraps, covering them with water, and boiling them along with some herbs for a few hours. Once it’s done boiling just filter out the leftover scraps and you’re good to go!