CompostableLA is a successful female-owned food waste pickup service

By Sofia Santana

CompostableLA’s mission is to close the loop in our food systems by turning former waste into future nutrients. PHOTOS BY LUIS CHAVEZ

What began as a final project idea for the UCLA Sustainability Certificate program has evolved into a successful compost pickup service founded by and for Westsiders.

The program, CompostableLA, was founded in 2019, with its first customers being Westsiders eager to sustainably manage their food waste.

“We are a community-based compost pickup service that keeps all the resources hyper-local so people can have access to that soil and the produce grown with that soil. They can visit the farm spaces and really create a whole community around something that is traditionally invisible to us, which is our waste,” explained Monique Figueiredo, who founded CompostableLA while living in Playa del Rey.

“CompostableLA is truly a Westside-born company. Our boundary south is Playa del Rey and Westchester, and out of all the neighborhoods we serve, Venice is currently our most popular neighborhood with the most subscribers,” Figueiredo said.

When she moved to LA, Figueiredo noticed a lack of “microhaulers” or community-based compost services that pick up food waste directly from homes, so she sought to create opportunities for smarter food waste management in her own community.

But along with its compost pickup service for LA residents, CompostableLA does advocacy work around environmental justice and community composting.

“The original ethos of the company was to divert food waste and create healthy soil, and when I brought Jamie Renee Williams on as co-owner, it has really evolved into a lot of environmental justice work,” Figueiredo said. “Composting, healthy soil, environmental and social justice work are really interconnected, so it seemed like a natural progression for the company to take.”

CompostableLA has already expanded into the Valley and Eastside LA, but Figueiredo hopes to expand into Central and South LA, where sustainability and composting programs are less accessible.

“I want to make sure that people feel like they can connect to a compost community in LA,” Figueiredo said.

CompostableLA is also on its way to becoming a Certified B Corporation, meaning it is legally obligated to do what is best for its finances, the environment and the community, something that is extremely important to Figueiredo.

“This really grounds you in true sustainability, because you have to frequently report and be very transparent on how you are working toward the economy, equity and the environment,” Figueiredo said. “I like to tell people that we are not organized as a nonprofit, so if people would like to get involved, volunteering with our nonprofit partner LA Compost, the ones that process our compost, would be the best way to help the movement.”

CompostableLA is paving the way for community-based compost services to grow and thrive in LA — and doing so as a women-in-waste run company.

“We have a fully-run female organization right now, “ Figueiredo said. “It’s not like this was the original ethos of the company, but I love that this is the direction the company has taken.”

With major expansion plans in store and a shift into the environmental and social justice advocacy realm, CompostableLA is looking to grow and reach even more Angelenos, whether that be through education or the services it provides.

“If people want to get more involved, they can sign up for our service, follow us on Instagram, tell other people about our service, and volunteer with LA Compost,” Figueiredo said. “There’s lots of different ways to help. If you want to be a word spreader, if you want to gain knowledge, if you want to get your hands dirty, there are all these different things you can do.”

Figueiredo is excited and hopeful for CompostableLA’s future and wants to continue to educate residents about the power of sustainability and composting.

“I hope to cultivate an environment in LA that is equitable and accessible for people who want to compost,” Figueiredo said. “That encompasses us reaching more areas, diverting resources to people who are in the environmental justice industry and field, increasing education and knowledge around