Look Good Feel Good: A Composting Story

Let’s be honest. Sometimes when we think about environmentalism, we might think dirty-crunchy-hippie. I confess that I’d put myself in that category. Well, I’m here to tell you- I was wrong. Caring about the environment can actually look pretty fabulous.

That’s what I found at Mikel’s Paul Mitchell Experience in South Tampa. Their manager, Gerry Rammelkamp, contacted me after seeing a CBS news story about the problem with food waste. He went on a google search and was happy to find us. When we talked on the phone, Gerry explained that they already recycle up to 95% of their salon waste with Green Circles Salon.

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Gerry stole my composting heart with his earnestness and deep concern for our planet. When he was a kid, he and his dad used to work together in their garden. Planting, digging, weeding, being connected to their food. As he got older, he developed a love for animals and the environment, regularly donating to the World Wildlife Fund and the National Wildlife Federation. Like Suncoast Compost, he believes that one person really can make a difference. In this case, one business really can make a difference.

We agreed to meet up so that I could tell him more about our services with Suncoast Compost. Upon walking into Mikel’s, I was impressed by the beautiful fresh flowers and friendly staff. As Gerry was finishing up with a client, one of their stylists, Nachai, gave me the grand tour. I was super excited to find this salon has a first class beverage experience. A team member walked past holding a serving tray with a personal french press. While some may see luxury, I also saw potential compost scraps! Gimme those coffee grounds and fresh flowers.

After the tour, I sat down with Gerry and the artistic director, Mikel Sandoval, to lay out our services. Suncoast Compost provides businesses with:

  • bins
  • compostable bags
  • window decal
  • weekly pick up
  • finished compost twice a year
  • quarterly feedback
  • training for employees
  • social media promotions
  • the warm feeling of being good to the earth

They were on board! I came back a week later to train their fabulous team. As I was setting up my bins and bags, they trailed in, clad in all black, each one looking ready for their personal photo shoot. Before their meeting, they shared a breakfast on reusable plates and with reusable cutlery. None of that flimsy disposable plastic, thank you very much. As a former teacher, I really appreciated how Mikel creates community with his team. They begin each staff meeting by going around and saying what they are most thankful for that day. One of the stylists said they were thankful for Gerry’s commitment to the environment. Gerry said he was most thankful for me being there today. Guys, these people are so sweet it makes my heart melt.  

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I had a wonderful time educating their staff about the what, why, and how of composting. They were amazed to learn that over 40% of the food produced in the U.S. never gets eaten. We ended the session with a quick game to practice composting to give them confidence. Each team member received a slip of paper with a different item. They had to come up one at a time and decide if it belonged in compost or landfill. They were pros, even remembering that produce stickers have to come off of produce. Finally, I left them with their bins and bags and celebrated their inaugural composting experience.

I know you might be wondering. No, they do not compost their hair with Suncoast Compost. They do this with Green Circles Salon. Some of the things they do compost with Suncoast Compost: coffee grounds, fresh flowers, snacks, leftover lunches, and soiled napkins.

What would happen if more businesses took responsibility for their waste like Mikel’s? Looking good doesn’t have to come at the cost of harming the environment. Treat yo self.