Scottsdale Woman Seeks to Make Composting More Accessible
Lauren Click was looking for a way to lessen her ecological impact. She received an electronic composter, but over time it started to feel more like a problem than a solution. A little research and a visit to see her sister, who was composting with worms, sparked an idea to help others compost and reduce plastic waste. Click founded Let’s Go Compost, which upcycles empty bulk ingredient bins from restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores into free worm compost bins that are donated back to members of the community. “We don’t need to change our entire lives to make an impact, we just need a lot of people to make one tiny change to their day,” Click says. This year, her goal is to give away 1,000 composters. People can request bins online; Let’s Go Compost is currently offering bins in Phoenix and Scottsdale. We asked Click more about composting, her own garden and what’s next for Let’s Go Compost.
Q&A With Lauren Click, Founder of Let’s Go Compost
Tell me about what sparked your interest in composting.
I’ve loved nature my entire life. When I was little, I used to make fairy dresses out of twigs, leaves and lantana or bougainvillea flowers. I loved plants throughout college and had the opportunity to work at Dig It Gardens for a summer during my senior year at Arizona State University and fell even more in love with the plant world.
At Dig It, I had the opportunity to learn beyond just keeping a pretty houseplant alive. They truly care about the planet and inspired me to be as generous as they are. Since graduation, I’ve had a fairly standard corporate career in business and always felt my roots—pun intended—were in giving back. In quarantine, after feeling severe eco-guilt, I was gifted an electric composter for Valentine’s Day. I loved it, and it helped me really understand how I could lessen my direct impact, even though I only lived in an apartment. While I still work my standard 8-5 job, it feels really good to have this passion project on the side.
What led to the creation of Let’s Go Compost, and how did you settle on worm composting?
After using the electric composter for a few years, I wasn’t really happy with how often it would get jammed, and it felt counter-intuitive to use electricity and plastic gadgets to reduce my waste. My sister, who lives in New York City, had started worm composting on her own in her shoebox-sized apartment. I thought it was cool and gave it a try. After seeing the worms eat an entire giant cardboard box in a month, I was sold.
Somehow, even after knowing I fell for a greenwashed electric composter, I was still convinced I needed to buy the “perfect” worm composting tower. While they are great tools, they use a ton of plastic to create and aren’t affordable for everyone. And, even the paid compost pickup programs aren’t in a monthly budget for most families. After a bit more researching, I realized I could create a worm composter with two buckets, a lid and a drill.
I joined a few of the local Phoenix seed and plant swap groups online. I love meeting people who love to give, and I really think that the universe provides what you provide to it. I wanted to make sure that if someone was giving me their extra wildflower seeds or plant clippings, I would be able to reciprocate the generosity. I connected the dots and realized the same 3.5 and 5-gallon buckets they sell at big-box stores are being thrown out in the hundreds every day by bakeries, restaurants and grocery stores. I sucked up how embarrassing it was to call around and explain that I wanted buckets to compost with. After receiving a ton of “nos,” I finally had a few stores willing to give me their buckets.
After I get the buckets donated, I drill 10 to 12 holes into the bottom of one, pop it into the other and add a lid. That’s all you need to make this type of compost bin. Then, you can add red wiggler composting worms, some dirt for them to live in and organic materials. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but the size of the buckets allows them to be great learning tools for those new to composting altogether or worm composting in general.
What impact have you made so far?
In 2022, we’ve been able to give away more than 100 composters. That was my goal for the year, and I was so excited to reach it early on in November. My 2023 goal is to donate 1,000 compost bins to the community.
What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way with composting?
Composting is a learning process, and everyone does it differently. The great news is that the Earth has been composting longer than all of us have been alive. Be patient, always add more “browns” than “greens” and watch the magic work. And, always be able to pivot, learn a hard lesson and just keep moving forward. We don’t need to change our entire lives to make an impact—we just need a lot of people to make one tiny change to their day. And, for me, that change is just in the way you throw out your waste.
How are you putting your compost to work?
This is my second year as a homeowner, and I’ve loved learning how to garden outdoors after so many years of having just houseplants. While my mastiff puppy continues to treat my garden as her personal playground, my main goal for the spring is to keep it green. The compost has been so great for my indoor plants, so I know that I will have more success this year.
What’s next for Let’s Go Compost?
The world is our oyster. Or, well, our compost bin. There are so many ideas I’d love to execute in 2023. We are working through a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) educators program for classrooms, after-school groups and homeschools that launches in spring 2023. The buckets we use can go far beyond composting, and I’d love to use them to help schools create gardens for their students, families and educators to enjoy.