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Compost Buddy

An app to support community-composting

Photo of Le Trinh
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Problem statement: Apartment dwellers throw organic food waste to the bin instead of composting because they found composting too difficult or don't know what to do with the compost waste.

Hypothesis: We believe that by creating an easy way to take part in community composting for apartment dwellers we will  achieve less food waste going to landfill and more nutritious soil for farmers, gardeners, and community.

Idea: "Compost Buddy" is a community-based app that connects people in an area to build and maintain community composting.

Resident/ School who have food scrap could:

- Learn what food scraps can compost 

- Find a nearby drop-off points/community compost bin to donate their food scraps or compost waste 

- See how their compost waste is helping local farmer/ gardener 

- Ask question about composting

- Volunteering to become a community compost caretakers to regularly maintain and manage the compost or worm farm; 

- Receive gifts or thank you note from farmer/gardeners who use compost

Farmer/Gardener could

- Volunteering to become a community compost caretakers to regularly maintain and manage the compost or worm farm; 

- Free to use compost to their gardens

- Prepare gift of special offers for food scraps donator


What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Research more about community composting around the world Interview people who compost to have more insights

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Share about experience with composting and community composting will be helpful Contribute on how to operate and what will motivate you to participate in a community composting

Tell us about your work experience:

I'm a UX Designer and I interest in sustainability as well.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

How far along is your idea?

  • It’s just been created! It’s existed for 1 day - 1 month


Join the conversation:

Photo of Antoni null

Two problems that I thinks we cannot control:
1. The odor produced when all the organic is composting (many people will not like it), especially if we planned to bound the composting site in urban areas for any convenience reason.
2. Cannot filter what people will throw in the composting site (all we want is organic matters)

There already a method called "Waste Sorting" on public trash can, maybe if to provide more of this can we can start to get the the organic waste resources from there, then we can transport only the organic waste to registered farmers area to be composed. (so collecting in urban area, composing in another area).

Photo of Abigail L'Abbé

Hello Le,

I love your idea about introducing compost into the community! I agree that it is a great way to reduce food waste. It is simple, effective, and often times gets over looked. I have seen composting up close and know there are challenges and benefits. I have worked at a summer camp for multiple summers. Speaking from experience, the kitchen unintentionally wastes immense amounts of food. Without composting not only would leftovers go to waste but also scraps from food preparation.

The idea of an app is the perfect way to combine this “old fashioned idea” with new technology of the modern day. Have you thought about the specifics you would like the app to contain? My understanding is that you want to connect the community, including residents, schools, farmers, and gardeners. Perhaps when designing the app you could make different icons that cater to the qualities of each individual. The program could be used by beginners to learn about composting, or composting veterans could use it to learn about how composting is used by others. Do you intend for it to have any social interaction? In this people could have accounts where it would be possible to know how many people in a given community compost or are interested in composting. There could be a location generator where you could find composts near you or even companies that compost. Would you want the app to be nationwide? If so, how do you want people to distinguish their community? There are so many opportunities this app could create!

The most important detail to not forget is creating the foundation for composting. Some communities may be very interested while others may not be. It will be most beneficial in high-populated regions such as cities. Have you ever considered starting this as a website or Facebook group to get the word out? If you have a structure of people who support composting, he or she can go out into their individual areas and teach about composting. Another important thing to consider is that most people don’t compost because they do not know how. Educating people about compost and teaching the proper protocols would be very beneficial. An app on top of all this would help connect the separate ideas throughout the town/state/country.

One last thing I have learned is that no matter how much you try to teach people about composting, there will still be mistakes or those who refuse to listen. In a camp, school, or company atmosphere, it is not guaranteed everyone will follow the rules of what can and cannot be composted. The question that stands is what system could be created to organize this mess? Also a piece of advice I would like to give is that compost is very smelly and can start to smell quickly. That could be a deterrent for restaurants or city dwellers that do not currently compost.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and hope to be able to talk more about composting.

Photo of mitch Lee

Hi Le,

Having nurtured a few composts myself, I've found the smell can become a bit odorous.  Therefore, it may pay to explore people's perceptions around composts. In addition, because local councils will be hard to sell this idea to, you should think about the value proposition from a the councils lens. 

Best of luck!

Photo of Jacob Schual-Berke

Great idea! Many places have CSA's (, and I assume they deliver to apartments(?). Since they are already dropping off food, I wonder if they could pick up compost from households at the same time and take it back to their farm to use. It would be efficient, and maybe they could offer a discount based on the amount of compost the household gives. Might be a convenient place to start!

Photo of Aaryaman Singhal

Hi Jacob,

I love the idea of partnering with CSAs. It's a win-win and an easy way to partner with people who have similar sensibilities about how agriculture and food affect the environment and vice versa.