Malibu businesses come Full Circle on composting

Full Circle Compost created a compost bin at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu. The compost bin will be harvested in collaboration with Cavi Kitchen and Saloon Coffee. Photo contributed. Photo contributed.

The process of composting can sound intimidating, but for organizations such as Full Circle Compost, all it takes is a little social willingness. 

The CEO of Move the World for the last 10 years, Cecilie Stuart, has been an activist for residents in the Santa Monica Mountains primarily engaging and sharing knowledge throughout Los Angeles in festivals, parades, events, libraries, and museums on primary climate regeneration and ecological challenges and solutions.

“In the last two years, since 2019, Move The World started a program called Full Circle Compost and the goal is to really implement climate solutions throughout the Santa Monica Mountains,” Stuart said. “We do a number of things to achieve that one. We install compost systems at schools, residents, and businesses. We train and educate people on how to compost effectively and divert food from landfill and how soil science works.”

In November last year, Full Circle Compost created a bin at Calamigos Ranch where Cavi Kitchen and Saloon Coffee have been harvesting scraps from their businesses.

“It’s a real destination in Malibu for weddings and special events as well. I did a partnership with Victoria Levinsohn from Cavi Kitchen and Coffee Saloon along with MIGOS Dog,” Stuart said. “Those three organizations came together and collectively purchased a bin system from me, brought it out there and trained them how to use it. Now they’re composting all of their coffee out there and we’re hoping to expand that system where residents can compost divert food from landfill.”

Saloon Coffee manager and Cavi Kitchen co-founder Victoria Levinsohn said they began composting coffee grounds; garnishes like cinnamon sticks, berries, flowers; and used tea leaves from their coffee shop, as well as putting the Cavi customers’ compost in the bin. Now Malibu Cafe is contributing their food scraps, and as well as MIGOS dog food scraps, the organic dog food company based out of Calamigos.

“The composting has actually been going really well. It’s great to be able to use so many of the resources right here to divert waste from landfills,” Levinsohn said. “There are also some horses on the property and we use the horse manure as another nitrogen component in the compost.” 

Levinsohn said the dry leaves that the groundskeepers gather around the property make up their carbon layers. 

“The bin is filling up now and I’m excited to start another one in the near future,” Levinsohn said.

Stuart said they have been approved by Community Service Director Jesse Bobbett for the concept of a compost bin at Legacy Park .

 “The idea is to establish a public pilot compost bin at Legacy Park near the Lumber Yard,” Stuart said. “We’ve already spoken to Sun Life Organics and they would love to utilize the compost bin with their food and veggie food scraps, which would be a perfect bin there, that would serve as an initial pilot and hopefully others would grow from that.”

Stuart said a compost bin would be a big step forward for Malibu.

“I think Malibu has a sensitivity towards its ecosystem being closer to the ocean and I think that’s a big impact,” Stuart said.

Stuart made a presentation at the Malibu City Council meeting last month and said most of the school’s gardens in Malibu have been dilapidated and she hopes to get support for their garden programs.

“We’re working directly with Webster Elementary and we’re installing their compost system next month,” Stuart said. “We’re going to be rolling out an assembly presentation for the entire school and we’re going to be training the faculty and teachers on the compost and regenerative gardening as well as training for all of the students.”

Stuart said each student will learn how to compost and participate in leadership in that area as well as the Boys & Girls Club Malibu, which Stuart is really excited about. 

“They will rent it during the summer months and after school, so that’s really great because it’s not just an elementary school, it’s a Malibu youth program,” Stuart said. “I always talk about sustainability for the sustainability programs, so you can’t just start something and hope it will work, you kind of have to figure out the system and volunteers and get students to engage in it and be thoroughly interested in the process.”

In regards to climate change, Stuart hopes more residents can realize what we call waste, can actually be a resource.

“I think that residents of Malibu, like all communities, need to get busy as quickly as they can. All the climate and science that’s coming out even in the last two weeks really talks about how our climate is shifting even faster and more exponentially than we thought,” Stuart said. “Shifting the mindset between what we think of as throwing things away versus keeping them close and creating a resource from them, food is the simplest thing.”

Stuart said providing equal access promotes diversity in soil and within the community. 

“It doesn’t take a lot of technology, but what it does take is a lot of social willingness and operation in the community. It really is a low cost way to keep the gasses out of the atmosphere and reduce and regenerate our climate and that’s important for all of us,” Stuart added. “People sometimes just want to throw things away because they don’t want to deal with it because it’s dirty or icky or smells or this or that, but once you start a home composting community, you have a love for your food, you understand where it all comes from and you appreciate the unseen microbes that live in our soil and help us live. 

“You see the biology, the science behind what it is to break things down and it changes your life, it changes your perspective on what you eat, how you live and your connection to the land that you live on and that’s important for all communities.”