Love it: Composting recognized at the Love Your City Awards Gala!
It’s true – Schmelly’s loves our city! AND our city’s local food system. We love the delicious recipes coming out of New Orleans restaurant kitchens; we love the service staff who turn said recipes into memorable eating experiences; and we love food industry visionaries who want to see (what some would call) food trash turned into soil treasure. And we especially love being part of the essential but underrecognized network of folks driving trucks, cleaning sidewalks, and keeping the food-based tourism infrastructure churning.
For these reasons – and so many more – it was a sweet treat to be recognized at last Thursday’s Love Your City Awards Gala. Love Your City is an initiative of LifeCity, a members-based, business-to-business non-profit, that supports the development of the impact economy and growth of for-benefit organizations in Louisiana. Schmelly’s has been a member of LifeCity for a number of years and loved running into so many of our community partners, including Compost N.O.W. Café Carmo, You Are What You Eat New Orleans, and Green Light New Orleans. We were also blown away by how LifeCity turned out folks from across the spectrum of neighborhoods and sectors, all united by their belief that New Orleans can and must do more in making sustainability part of business-as-usual.
The event’s theme was “Face the music: the future is up to you” and was entirely run by young leaders in our community, including the New Orleans Youth Alliance. Xiye Bastida, a global youth indigenous rights and climate justice activist based in New York, was the keynote speaker and called on all of us in positions of decision-making to consider our environmental legacy. Schmelly’s wants to shout out LifeCity’s staff and event team for centering youth voice and highlighting perspectives from communities often left out of the environmental sustainability conversation – service-workers, immigrant women, low-income, business owners of color – even as they often bear the brunt of environmental racism and climate impacts.
Over the last eight years, over 122 awards have been presented to businesses and organizations for environmental and social impact achievements and to empowered change-makers to take on the next steps in their sustainability missions. LifeCity measures that impact through the loveyoutcity.org, a business scorecard and simple assessment tool that makes it really easy for local organizations, non-profit and for-profit alike, to assess their operations and services and align them towards these community goals.
Check out Schmelly’s report card here.
If you find it odd that a composting company would win the “Food” category, consider this: the average mid-sized US city produces over 100,000 tons of food waste a year from its restaurants, hospitality and food wholesale industries. (Source)
And New Orleans, as we know, is not your average city when it comes to food. Being above average (okay, let’s just call New Orleans EXCEPTIONAL) when it comes to all things food – culture, density, and waste – is one of the reasons that Schmellys got into the business of composting in the first place.
The Love Your City Food category measured “how well our community supports access to healthy and fresh food options that promote healthy ecosystems for generations to come, with minimal negative impact on the environment.” Rather than call the material we divert from the landfill “waste”, we like to think of it as “organics recycling”, taking prep scraps and what gets scraped off your plate, and recycling that material back into a nutrient-rich soil amendment that in time grows into the healthy, fresh vegetables, herbs, and grains served up at your favorite restaurant or neighborhood potluck.
Big thanks to the Love Your City’s Regional Sustainability Committee (RSC) – a group of made recognized leaders and subject-matter experts in our community who understand how to maximize impact through economic development in key areas like housing, food, and stormwater management – for selecting Schmelly’s as a stand-out business in a stand-out city. We also love that they also selected Compost N.O.W. as the winner of the Resource Management category. Compost N.O.W. is the volunteer-driven residential compost program that works with Schmelly’s and other urban farms to collect 250,000 lbs and counting of food scraps at New Orleans Public Libraries. It was a compost tour de force!
We hope that, by highlighting the importance of food waste reduction, ahem…organics recycling, Love Your City can be a catalyst for the City of New Orleans dig deep into incorporating these innovative efforts into the city’s overall sustainability and climate mitigation efforts.