Recycling, composting, and zero waste are quickly becoming more commonplace practices. Because many people are still unaware of the necessity of adopting these practices, it is important to take the time to learn and educate people in the community around yourself. Embracing these practices will not only benefit the Earth and environment around you, but it will also bring you closer to the people who surround you, the food that you handle and consume, and to your own awareness and body. I sat down with Morgan Wright, with Hillside Solutions, to speak of their composting and recycling programs. They have partnered with multiple businesses in Benson and are hoping to educate this community and neighborhood about the importance of waste reduction.
Q: What do you do with Hillside Solutions?
A: You can think of us like an eco-friendly trash company. As in, we’ll empty your dumpster and take it to the landfill, but we’d much rather figure out ways to recycle and compost your waste. We help businesses, schools, and apartments meet their sustainability goals, whether it’s just increasing recycling rates or figuring out how they can go zero-waste. From what I can tell, we’re the only business in town offering organizations this type of comprehensive service, and it looks like 2018 is going to be a break through year for us.
But all that to say, it’s my job to talk to people in the community everyday about how we can partner up to create more sustainability. I love it!
Q: Besides the obvious benefits of composting, what else have you gathered through your experience with composting and reducing waste that has been beneficial?
A: Our team is learning so much everyday about the effects of our waste system. A lot of people think, “What’s the issue with landfills?”
Landfills themselves could be a carbon capsule for energy in the future, which can be viewed as beneficial. But everyday after the trash goes in, they put down a layer of dirt to offset smells and trash flying around. While this seems like a good thing, what it actually does is block out oxygen from getting to our organic waste, so it takes forever for materials to break down. A head of lettuce thrown into a garbage bag that gets thrown into a landfill takes 25 years to break down. Think about that!
In the meantime, that lettuce head is putting off methane, which is 60 times worse than CO2. While many landfills collect methane and sell it to energy companies, the total amount of methane released in the lifespan of a landfill that isn’t catchable ends up creating more problems than solutions.
There’s a better way, and that’s composting our organic waste, which is where we come in.
Q: Is there anything you could direct other people towards to learn more about composting, recycling, or waste reduction?
A: I recently saw the “Wasted! The Story of Food Waste” documentary at a collaborative screening at Film Streams. I really encourage everyone to watch this to get an understanding of what our food waste does to the environment, and what alternatives we have to be apart of the solution.
People in our community right here are leading the charge, like our sustainability partners at Duchesne Academy. They have a 2030 zero-waste goal, and are the first high school in Omaha to participate in our composting program. The students, parents, and educators within the school system are very involved and they are some of my local heroes.
We’re also working with St. John’s Parish on the Creighton University campus as they work towards becoming the first zero-waste congregation in Omaha.
Q: Do you think you could see a zero-waste Benson in the future? Or anything close?
A: That’s what I’m working towards everyday. I love this neighborhood, and I think Benson is a diverse, accepting, and progressive community, so we certainly have the capacity to grow into a greener neighborhood.
Short term goals: We’re exploring the feasibility of community composting stations in the neighborhood, since we’ve seen such a high demand for people wanting to drop off their organic waste. I’ve been attending community meetings and meeting with neighborhood owners one-on-one to explore how we can increase recycling rates and begin composting their organic waste. The response has been really positive and I think we’re going to be able to make a lot of progress this year.
“Hi! My name is Morgan Wright and I love Benson. I'm a proud BFF member, Benson Neighborhood Association member, and currently have a massage therapy practice out of my Benson home. Most of all, I’ve loved my time working at various neighborhood establishments, and supporting the thriving music and art scene over the past decade. I'm honored to be a part of such a vibrant community, I love the people of Benson, and look forward to helping my community become more sustainable. Hillside Solutions provides an alternative to traditional waste companies. We are a local, family owned business that takes recycling, organic material, which is processed at our compost farm, and landfill refuse. We’d love to hear from you in how we can work together to improve our community.”
In Benson, there is opportunity around every corner. The community, the businesses, the artists, and the people all share one common element, they want to be the best they can be.
But sometimes, this much potential can become dizzying. The old saying rings true, "so much to do, so little time". And when the activities are this engaging and wonderful, you don’t want to miss a one.
I have included here a list of the Art Galleries in Benson (that I am aware of) so that everyone can go out and support the local artists that make Benson so weird/great. This is also not an extensive list, particularly because every business in Benson tends to have art hanging on their walls, so you can never go wrong!
Benson Art Galleries:
2725 N 62nd St
Omaha, NE 68104
6208 Maple St
Omaha, NE 68104
CHOICE Custom Framing & Gallery
5905 Maple St
Omaha, NE 68104
The Little Gallery Benson
5901 Maple Street
Omaha, NE 68104
Maple St. Construct
5912 Maple Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68104
If I have missed any and you would like the included, leave a comment and I'll update soon!
P.S. The BFF crew prints off maps for every First Friday event, so make sure to stop by the Petshop or other businesses and pick one up for a handy guide to the area!
- Justin Holman
Our Newsroom editors are current interns of BFF - most are students at UNO.