Students Earn Community Service Award for Composting

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Four Rye Neck High School students – seniors Sonia Finkenberg, Jonathan Marcuse and Owen Robertson, and junior Dylan Spencer – have been honored with a 2020 St. Vincent’s Youth Award for their commitment to serving their community.

Having started ASAP Scraps Composting Inc., a nonprofit community compost pickup service, in May 2019, the students have been instrumental in making their community more sustainable.

“It feels very rewarding to be honored with this award, as we have put in hundreds of hours of community service into building this business, and it is a great feeling to be recognized for this accomplishment,” said Marcuse, CEO and president of ASAP Scraps Composting. “We will keep the spirit of this award close to us as we continue to benefit our communities for our whole life.”

After realizing that their village’s composting system was underutilized because it required residents to bring their compost to the recycling center, the students launched a service to eliminate that inconvenience. Each week, they collect and deliver composting for community members who register for a nominal monthly fee. Any profit beyond operating expenses is donated to environmental charities.

“Seeing the impact that we have made on our community through both the volume of compost we have delivered and the money we have raised is extremely rewarding to us,” Marcuse said. “Our plan would be to replicate our business model in other towns in order to achieve the same success. The greater impact we have, the more rewarded we will feel.”

Each week, the four students drive to each of their 68 subscribing households – a list that continues to grow – to collect the compost. They empty the individual compost bins into a larger collection bin before driving to the village’s recycling center, where they unload all compost into the municipal collection bins. To date, they have collected approximately 9,500 gallons of compost, or the equivalent of 3.2 concrete mixer trucks, 50 hot tubs or 220 bathtubs.

"To most, food scraps seem gross, but, for me, I find the buckets of waste absolutely beautiful,” said Finkenberg, CCO of ASAP Scraps Composting. “I love being part of a much bigger environmental movement, so physically picking up food scraps has been so rewarding.”

Finkenberg, Marcuse, Robertson and Spencer are the organization’s founding members, along with Daniel Ricci, a Class of 2019 graduate.

Presented by St. Vincent’s Auxiliary, the 2020 St. Vincent’s Youth Awards recognize high school students whose volunteer service exemplifies St. Vincent’s Hospital Westchester’s core values of respect, integrity, compassion and excellence. For more information on ASAP Scraps Composting, visit https://www.asapscraps.org/.