BKROT – Home Compost Collection and Youth Employment
BKROT is a new home compost collection service that employs local youth in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The program is designed to place local youth and community members directly in the urban farm movement by collecting compostable food waste from Bushwick residents and generating nutrient rich soil for the wider Bushwick community. The idea is simple: Bushwick residents pay $10 a month for a weekly pick-up on Sundays starting at noon. Bushwick youth are paid $15 per hour to pick up residential food scraps and manage compost sites partnering with the program.
To succeed, BKROT needs supplies, to include: 6 compost bins, compost bags, 3 bikes, 3 bike trailers, a website, start-up salaries, a bank account and secure online payment method, and promotional materials.
why we’re doing it
BKROT is a local – and potentially replicable – solution to two city-wide challenges: compost collection and youth unemployment. Developed from an environmental justice perspective, the overall goal of the project is increase community composting through empowering low-income and minority youth.
Works to Reduce Youth Employment
For three consecutive years, New York City youth (ages 16-19) unemployment rate remained an alarming 30%, three times the city’s unemployment rate. Additionally, one in five New Yorkers between 18 and 24 are out of school and out of work. In low-income neighborhoods of the outer boroughs, these statistics are estimated to be much worse.
Research shows youth employment has positive impacts for years. In 2010, New York City’s Workforce Investment Board reported, “those who work at age 17 are more likely to work at 19 and more likely to work into their early 20s and beyond”.
BK ROT provides a sustainable intervention through direct employment. Our riders will be paid a fair wage, at no less than $15 per hour. The more residents who participate, the more riders we can offer employment to.
Fights Youth Obesity
Obesity is a huge challenge in New York City: 58% of adults, or 3,437,000 people, are overweight or obese. In low-income communities of color, where fresh food is hard to find, these rates can be up to 70%. For NYC youth ages 6-11, the rates are more alarming: 21.3% are obese; the national average is 19%.
Again, this epidemic is more extreme in low-income communities of color. According to Mayor Bloomberg’s report, “residents of Bedford Stuyvesant or East New York are four times more likely than a resident of the Upper East Side to die of diabetes. Black New Yorkers are almost three times more likely, and Hispanics twice as likely as whites to die from diabetes”.
BK ROT counters this growing trend with work that not only provides a physical workout, but directly engages youth with healthier foods. Research shows youth cycling improves overall cardiovascular health, boosts the immune system, builds the muscular system and instills a sense of confidence and independence.
Increases Community Composting
Most urban adults and youth—especially in Brooklyn—live in tiny apartments with no possibility for gardening, let alone creating or storing compost. Many people do not fully understand the process and value of composting. Even if they want to reuse their food waste, they usually have to drop it off in another neighborhood.
Our program focuses on integrating the entire community into a neighborhood-wide composting system. By participating in the affordable pick-up service, residents know they are working—even at the smallest scale—towards reducing landfill waste and contributing to farms, gardens and community projects in their neighborhood.