BK ROT Is Compost Rooted In Community

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BK ROT is a community centered, closed loop, fossil-fuel free approach to hauling and composting residential and commercial food waste in central Brooklyn. We represent a localized green economy rooted in the principles and values of environmental justice. BK ROT creates space for the leadership of young people of color who disproportionately face the consequences of environmental destruction and yet whose visions and values are excluded from the dominant policy and design strategies for urban sustainability.

We prioritize slow growth with deep roots versus rapid expansion that is not grounded. We are designing and implementing a new kind of waste system, one that uses food waste as the foundation for a healthy urban ecosystem, that uplifts the people and places responsible for managing waste, and that demonstrates the power of a regenerative green economy. We are supporting the next generation of environmental justice leaders who will shape our city.

As the New York City Sanitation Department expands its programs to dispose of organic waste, it’s more important than ever to consider who does that work, where it goes, and how it gets done. Everything we do at BK ROT —  from hauling and processing local food scraps, to creating high-grade compost that is returned to the local community it came from, to then grow more food and nourish local soil — is youth-powered, closed-loop, community-supported, and most impressively, completely fossil-fuel free. Our young folks pick up food scraps by bike, we process the material manually, using shovels and choppers, and as of this year, our two main sites are totally solar-powered. 

Compost in progress. Photo: BK ROT

Waste labor is often dangerous, unpleasant, and undervalued. BK ROT was designed to make waste labor safe, expert, and celebrated. Compost labor is often regarded as a hobby — programs run by volunteers with leisure time to spare. BK ROT works to make sure composting is treated as a job — a well-respected, well-compensated and meaningful one. Our local government has a history of shipping our waste to low-income, marginalized communities using diesel-fueled trucks which leads to truck congestion, high emissions from both vehicles and landfilled organics, and widespread health hazards. While there are many ways to reduce the amount of food we waste, we’re always going to have food waste! It’s time we learned how to live with it, sustainably. 

While the idea for BK ROT was conceived in 2011, we made our first hire and began hauling food scraps in 2013, which means we celebrate our 10th anniversary this fall! We’re headquartered in Bushwick, but operate in Bed-Stuy, East Williamsburg, Ridgewood, and Crown Heights. We invite community-members, customers, partners, volunteers, and visitors to our space at Know Waste Lands Community Garden, where our entire composting system is on display. 

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Take action to support BK ROT!

  • If you’re interested in learning more, volunteering, booking a tour or field trip, finding out if you’re in our service area, or partnering with us, email us at in**@bk***.org!
  • Need some black gold (i.e. compost)? Request some here
  • Run a business and interested in ethically hauling your food waste or stocking our retail compost? Email us at ac******@bk***.org
  • Follow us on instagram at @bk_rot for our most up-to-date info. 
  • Sign up for our quarterly newsletter here!

Come meet us in person at a sweet artist market fundraiser being thrown for us and Divine Explosion Arts Program by Artists for Mutual Aid, on Saturday, February 11, 5:30-9:30 PM at Mayday Space (176 St. Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn). There will be artists, vendors, performers, a silent auction, food, music, and more! More info on the event can be found here. We hope you join us for a beautiful evening of community.

Field Notes is a section in Bluedot Living Brooklyn dedicated to amplifying organizations doing important work in Brooklyn and beyond. Field Notes are authored by the organizations and edited for clarity by Bluedot. If you would like to submit a Field Note, email bl*****@br***********.com


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