Vandra Thorburn represents “boots on the ground” in advancing green living. By Roz Welsh Joseph

I recently read an attention-grabbing article in U.K. media Independent, where nature documentarian David Attenborough offered a stark warning “Stop waste.  Stop waste of any kind. Stop wasting power, stop wasting food, stop wasting plastic.  Don’t waste, this is a precious world.  Celebrate and cherish.”  He went on to further comment, “human beings have overrun the world.”

I met the relentless self-described “waste rebel” Vandra Thorburn in a Fastrac Growth class about 8 years ago where she presented her plan to bring food reuse/recycling ideas to market.  At the time, while green living should have been a top-of-mind priority for everyone, the destination of food waste was not a sexy topic on which society was hyper-focused.

With her innovative programs to recycle food waste and reuse the by-product to help replenish the Earth, Vandra Thorburn represents “boots on the ground” in advancing green living and serves as a constant reminder of how our actions can positively impact the Earth, if we practice environmentally-friendly living.

Through Vokashi Kitchen Waste Solutions, Vandra employs a fermentation method used by the Japanese called “bokashi” to naturally ferment the food scraps we discard.  Applying bran-containing microbes to start a fermentation process, after 14 days the result is a product ready to be used as a soil amendment or in composting systems.  In this way, food scraps can be put “back into the earth” to replenish the soil.   

The “Waste Rebel” serves residential homes, small businesses, caterers and events where she provides airtight buckets for the scraps and offers a variety of collection options.  According to information on the Vokashi site, it “has the experience to ensure composting success.”  From the positive comments her clients offer (samplings below), they are happy with the results of the service. 

Lucy Lui on Compost Collection Service – Monthly Residential Service
Company Name: Lucy Liu: Actress / Artist / Advocate
My Location: Manhattan, NY

I thought we had to have a backyard to compost, then I heard about Vokashi. Now we compost every day. The airtight lid conceals any odors and makes sure there are no pesky fruit flies. Thanks to this fantastic and convenient service we know our scraps are being used beneficially for soil amendments and fine-quality compost.

Kim Unger on Compost Collection Service – Small Business or Caterer
Company Name: OXO
My Location: New York City

Minimizing our impact on the environment is key to us and we feel we all can play a role. It's one of the reasons we design products that stand the test of life and time. Since food is such a huge part of what we do, it's important to us that as little as possible goes to waste. It's why we regularly fill Vokashi buckets with food left over from all of our kitchen adventures.

John Okun on Compost Collection Service – Small Business or Caterer
Company Name: Avid Waste Systems
My Location: Bronx, NY

Vokashi is the best carbon footprint for the collection and processing of organics in NYC. And Vokashi's ownership and mission meets the highest standards for socially responsible and innovative entrepreneurship. I highly recommend both their residential and business services.

With the growing global reports of disappearing icebergs, floods, hurricanes and wildfires, Vandra’s work remains top of mind. I thought it was time to catch up with the Fastrac Alum to see how her business was faring during the pandemic and for an update on her progress and how Vokashi is being received:

Q.  How long have you been practicing recycle/reuse? 
A.10 years!

Q.  Do you get the sense that as a society we are inconsiderate of the waste we produce and especially of where it ends up? 
A. Absolutely!  Where should I begin?

Q.  Do you experience interest in Vokashi from the younger generation?  
A.Yes.  Children are the driving force for change in any household!

Q.  Are you experiencing a wider reach, are people paying attention? 
A.More people are composting and taking advantage of free city drop-off sites.

Q.  I have to ask, how have you been managing during this pandemic period?
A.It has been a deep punch to our business.  Just when we had a cushion from servicing small businesses and coworking spaces, the service collapsed.

No, it’s not sexy or luxurious but neither is mounting piles of garbage with nowhere to go.  I am Including myself here, we consume and throw out, not giving a second thought to what happens to our garbage and where it ends up, or what the growing sizes of landfills mean to us; and why we are we seeing a trend of garbage ending up in the oceans.  

More than ever it is necessary to do our part to cut back, recycle, and pay attention to small steps we as individuals can take to leave the Earth in better environmental condition for the next generation.  If we care.

Thanks Vandra.  #WasteRebel. 

It sure gives some semblance of comfort to know that the work of Vandra #WasteRebel is delivering real solutions.  When I think of Vokashi I envision lush green leaves on towering trees, organic fruits and vegetables, more oxygen and less carbon dioxide in our lungs. 

We can also be heartened by movements like Earth Day that amplify sustainable living and of course the the work of phenomenal nextgen climate activists, such as Marley Dias, Isra Hirsi, Elsa Mengistu, Vanessa Nakate, Nadia Nazar, Kevin J. Patel and Greta Thunberg, who are sounding the alarm bells and inviting us to wake up to the realities of the effects of what we contribute to the Earth’s environment.  International governments have added climate change discussions to their agendas, but I know – talk, talk, talk – but not nearly enough concrete actions to match the rhetoric.

Video: “Compost Queen” presented by Zagat compliments Vokashi