MONTCLAIR, NJ - These local, eco-friendly businesses help Montclair residents stay green in convenient and innovative ways.
Java’s Compost - Feed the Earth without leaving your doorstep
Composting is easier said than done—while rewarding, it takes infinite patience. Thanks to Michelle and Java Bradley’s pickup process, busy residents can recycle their food scraps without doing the hard work.
Growing up in New York City, Michelle knows first-hand that composting can be a daunting procedure. Her husband, Java, had been managing a three-bin composting system on a rooftop garden in Newark before they started their business. With his encouragement, Michelle learned that food has value, and should not be considered trash.
Java’s Compost has proved this to residents from all over New Jersey. Since their pickups started up in 2018, Java’s has expanded to serve 17 cities including Montclair, West Orange, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge and Maplewood, and is adding even more towns. They also do pickups for 16 local businesses, such as Montclair’s Java Love coffee shop and Bloomfield’s Green Grocer.
Here’s how it works. Residents from single-family homes, apartments and townhouses all receive a bucket for food scraps (size varies) for $25 as a one-time fee. Then, residents choose how often they would like their scraps to be picked up (weekly or biweekly, starting at $12.50 for a weekly plan). Once their buckets are filled and picked up by Java’s staff, residents can opt to donate their finished compost to community gardens in NJ, or have it returned and use it at home.
In the spring, finished soil donations end up at Java’s Compost urban farm partners such as the SWAG Project and Green Community Farm, located in Newark. According to Michelle, these farms have been operational throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She believes that residential business for Java’s has increased since residents have been staying home and noticing their quantity of food waste, while temporary closures of some food service venues caused a dip on the commercial side.
As a business just forming in 2016, Michelle and Java began composting for residents in their own backyard before a facility in Andover accepted their compost and provided them with clean material. In Montclair, Michelle says they serve about 800 houses. For those who want to give composting at home a shot, she advises getting a bin that is raised off the ground—this, she says, avoids the “rat issue” that gives composting a bad name.
Visit Java’s Compost here to learn more.
Good Bottle - Refill, reuse, repeat
Deanna Taylor-Heacock started her first refill shop in Maplewood after coming to the realization that she was “buying her own trash.” In other words, purchasing single-use containers for items for everything from dish soap to bath bombs was a recipe for unnecessary waste.
Located in Montclair’s downtown area, Deanna’s new refill shop provides household cleaning agents, bathroom products and more in containers that are usable for the long-term. Folks in Montclair now have the option to pay just for what they need, without paying for the container. Those who need a container, or “good bottle,” can purchase one at the shop and reuse it. Everything Good Bottle sells is by the ounce.
“I want to offer customers a way not to have any waste throughout the whole process,” said Taylor. “Our first question is, is this brand zero-waste, does it support a circular economy?”
In order to support a circular economy, the shop receives products in bulk from a zero-waste supplier in containers that can be reused or recycled. When the containers are empty, Good Bottle sends it back to the supplier to be sanitized and filled up again with new products. The brands that do not take back sell in containers that Good Bottle terracycles. Terracycle is a private recycling company based in Trenton that collects non-recyclable waste and turns it into raw material to be used in new products.
Some brands that Good Bottle uses include Meliora and Better Life, which sell natural cleaning products, and Oneka—the “Dove of the refill shop”—which offers nontoxic body products and offers at-home refill selections. Better Life sells in five-gallon bags while Meliora takes back their buckets of product and refills them.
When customers come to the shop, they weigh their containers, fill them, then weigh them containing the product. The difference makes the cost.
“We think there is useful plastic out there,” admitted Taylor, “but the reality is, everyone is buying bottles for one-time use. There is no reason you shouldn’t have this thing until it breaks one day. The five R’s: Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot.”
Visit Good Bottle’s site to learn more.
Coming Soon: Greener Montclair - Montclair’s eco-conscious Amazon.com
After working in the music industry and Montclair’s Wellmont Theater for over eight years, Joann Smalls started questioning the value of her possessions and how she could lead a more sustainable, purposeful lifestyle.
“I didn’t want to just live life anymore and exist and go through the motions. I wanted to find purpose in everything I did and everything I owned,” said Smalls.
Her online business model echoes this sentiment. She started Greener Montclair in 2019, which will offer zero-waste versions of daily-use household items. Any products from soap, to food and coffee will be packaged sustainably and delivered to Montclair residents once the business launches this summer.
Smalls also hopes to work with local small businesses to create products for the online store. Like Taylor, she will provide products from Meliora, and work with sustainable packaging companies EcoEnclose and EcoBags.
“I want people to think out of the box. For instance, when I’m done with this, will it break down in the ground instead of ending up in the ocean,” explained Smalls. “A lot of my business will be messaging.”
She also has a vision for the store to grow into a physical space, where people can gather and hold seminars on sustainable living. Until then, Smalls plans on hitting the farmer’s market and Church Street with a table of items to make in-person connections.
“I don’t want to save the world, I want to start and work in my own town,” said Smalls. “That’s what Greener Montclair is about, being proactive in the town that we live in.”