Waste Not, Want Not

Check out four facilities that have mastered the art of composting–to great greening and beautifying effect!

Osmosis has used compost since the 1980s!

Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary

osmosis.com, Freestone, CA
Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary, a longtime green pioneer, has experimented with several systems of composting throughout its decades in business, and has had its current, agricultural-level system in place for about seven years. Behind the spa facility, a large-pile system utilizes a high-heat thermophilic stage and then a slower, lower-heat finishing stage; several waste piles are turned multiple times throughout the decomposition process to ensure proper aeration, and more materials are added to each pile daily.

“It was difficult to find the system that worked best for what we compost the most; many home compost piles become stinky, slowly rotting ingredients, rather than an active pile,” says Stusser. “That doesn’t make very good compost, nor is it conducive to a pleasant spa atmosphere, so we had to take ours to this level.”
Osmosis staff contributes spa waste such as cut flowers, paper towels, tea and food scraps, and liquid by-products from enzyme baths, as well as landscaping waste—then adds rice bran and manures as nitrogen sources. Stusser describes the process of composting as an “alchemy that’s more valuable than turning lead into gold,” because it helps assist in the natural process of return and purification.

To spa owners just getting started, Stusser recommends setting aside a minimum of three cubic yards (although for smaller operations, a hand-cranked device such as Absolute Nirvana’s compost balls may be ideal). Also make sure to use clearly labeled bins for compostable materials—in the kitchen, employee break rooms, etc.—to ensure that staff is kept in the loop. “The three keys are clear communication about what goes into compost piles; a straightforward sorting system; and having one person in charge of the creation and maintenance of piles,” stresses Stusser. Also, Osmosis employees are encouraged to bring in food waste from home to bulken the mix.

Stusser recommends that spa owners peruse the easy guide Let It Rot by Stu Campbell to learn more. (Also visit epa.gov for easy ways to set up your own composting system.)

“A compost pile is alive,” Stusser says. “It’s so rewarding in the end, and as people become more cognizant of how we interact with nature, composting will someday become a necessity, not an option.”

Tracy Morin is a freelance writer and editor based in Oxford, MS.


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