Julia Mande is a dear friend and director of development at LA Compost, a local nonprofit in Los Angeles that makes community composting accessible to all.
The healthy soil that is created by a community compost hub stays in the community and is used locally to enrich the soil in the neighborhood in which it was created. It's one of the only such models that exists in Los Angeles.
Q: Where are the most surprising barriers to reducing waste, or composting in LA?
Julia: For a few years it felt like the biggest barrier was a lack of awareness. People and businesses were mindlessly sending food both edible and inedible to landfill. But over time, with clear public campaigns and significant documentaries, public awareness started to shift towards reducing waste. Now, this biggest barrier is land use - we need to have more medium-scale compost processing in urban neighborhoods. when managed well, residents and businesses can eliminate organics going to landfill and instead contribute to local healthy soil development. This means more vibrant green spaces with cleaner air, cleaner water, and access to locally grown food.
Q: What is your favorite recipe or tip to reduce food waste at home?
Julia: Reducing waste starts with how you purchase. I do my best to buy fresh produce without packaging - directly from a farmer. I prep fresh produce into snack-able sizes so I can grab and go during the week. And before I go to the market again I go through the fridge and make a frittata or soup with anything still left in there.
Q: What is one cultural shift you would like to see in the next five years?
Julia: I can't wait until we stop this obsession with single-use items! I get that we live in a time of convenience, but at what cost? As a culture we like making things and supporting what we like through purchases, so lets practice conscious consumerism. When you take care of the things you purchase - whether its clothing, electronics, or households items, you extend the life of that item, and honor the resources and human power that went into making that item. Goodbye disposable economy, hello mindful economics.
Follow Julia's continued work building regenerative business practices at JuliaMande.space