Originally published March 14, 2020. Last updated January 15, 2021.
Are we working? Yes.
- Pickup services are continuing without interruption.
- Dropoff services are continuing but at a new location: 901 12th St NW
Are we essential? Yes.
Throughout the pandemic, New Mexico’s exceptions for “essential businesses” have included the following:
- “Infrastructure operations including . . . trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal.”
- “Manufacturing operations involved in . . . fertilizer.”
- “Services necessary to maintain the safety and sanitation of residences or essential businesses including . . . custodial services.”
- “Logistics and businesses that store, ship or deliver . . . goods or services directly to residences or retailers.”
We believe the above items classify the entirety of our work as “essential”. We’re taking it a day at a time but, for now, we have no plans to suspend our composting services unless a staff member or close associate tests positive for COVID-19, or if local conditions change and/or the state increases restrictions
Our Public Statement
From the start of the pandemic, we have taken this public health crisis very seriously. We provide composting services to nearly 500 local households each month, so it was critical that we understood the transmission risks associated with our business processes and took steps to reduce those risks.
In March of 2020, under the guidance of a local physician, we conducted a risk assessment of all of our business processes and rolled out a series of protocols to mitigate the identified risks. Over time, we’ve been able to relax many of those protocols, as research on COVID-19 transmission has shown that the substance of our work is very low risk, and that we largely just need to follow the same practices as the general public: wearing masks, social distancing,
Revised Risk Assessment
- Direct Transmission: The vast majority of coronavirus cases are caused by direct transmission via respiratory droplets. This risk can be mitigated through social distancing, wearing masks, socializing outdoors, and keeping interactions brief. Our risk in this regard is quite low, because nearly all of our face-to-face interaction with customers is brief, outdoors, and at a distance. Our small staff and large open floor plan allow for ample distancing at our headquarters as well, although crowding at our entryway during shift start times is probably our greatest risk.
- Food(waste) & Surface Transmission: Early in the pandemic we had grave concerns about the risk of transmission from our buckets or their contents. As more research has emerged, however, this concern has largely been abated.
What we’re doing
- On the road: Our drivers are required to wear a mask whenever they are outside their vehicle. They’ve been dispatched with hand sanitizer and wipes, and protocols for sanitizing high-touch surfaces in their trucks as well as for minimizing cross contamination between dirty buckets and clean ones. We have, however, stopped using single use gloves, due to the low risk of surface transmission from bucket to bucket.
- At drop-off events: We have instituted a no-contact drop-off process in which members’ buckets are exchanged from their trunk or back seat by our staff. Cash customers dump their own scraps into a separate container with minimal staff interaction.
- At headquarters: All staff and visitors are required to wear masks in the building when others are present, except when seated at appropriately distanced desks. Driver start times are staggered to minimize congestion in our loading area. Hand sanitizer and wipes are available in abundance. We are still using a bleach solution to rinse our buckets, and we allow them to air dry, typically for several days, before handling them again.
How you can help
- If you or someone you’ve been in close contact with contracts coronavirus or is otherwise advised to self-quarantine, please let us know so we can take additional precautions regarding your compost service.
- Contrary to our instructions at the start of the pandemic, we no longer expect you to disinfect your bucket on pickup day.
- Further, after originally requesting that you twist or tie your compostable plastic liner bag, we now prefer that you leave them untied to help us look for non-compostable contamination and
If you have any questions or recommendations in relation to these protocols, please contact me directly. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate this unprecedented challenge — we’re all in it together!
Founder, Little Green Bucket
A note on environmental sustainability
We make every effort to run every aspect of our business as sustainably as possible. We use plant-based, low-impact cleansers whenever possible, and we strive to minimize single-use products, especially non-compostable ones. However, the unique demands of this public health crisis require compromise. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been substituting non-compostable disinfecting wipes for our usual compostable ones, because the latter lack the disinfectant strength required. We also used a mix of compostable and non-compostable single use gloves for the first six months, a practice we have now ceased. We’ll continue to evaluate our supply sourcing and make the best choices we can for the environment without compromising public health.