Go Green OC

Composting Comes to Ocean City, MD

 

A Conversation with Josh Chamberlain, Founder of Go Green OC

Tell us how your organization came to be. 

We started on Earth Day, 2018. Our focus is primarily Ocean City, Maryland, with goals of re-introducing recycling (killed in 2009) and introducing zero waste which includes our city-wide compost program.

What are your main ongoing campaigns?

Our compost program has been our main campaign. We are focusing on the positive outcomes which include saving the city money, reducing waste being sent to the incinerator, creating new jobs, moving money into the local economy, reducing pollution and more.

What have been your biggest accomplishments/achievements?

Some of our achievements include:

  • Initiating conversations about how the city handles waste with city leaders and local organizations
  • Running a successful compost pilot program that moved nearly a ton of food scraps (2018)
  • Raising nearly 9K through community donations and grants in 2019 to support the foundation of our city-wide compost program and zero-waste events.
  • Introducing the first zero-waste event to Ocean City, MD, through “OC Bikefest” 2019, the largest motorcycle rally on the east coast, which happens once a year.
  • Launching a year-round compost program at our restaurant “The Hobbit,” diverting 50% of the waste (2020)

What challenges are you facing?

Raising funds has always been a challenge in order to support our programs.

What are the main environmental issues that your region is facing?

Because Ocean City is a beach resort, the region faces rising sea levels. By sending their waste to an incinerator, which turns trash into climate pollution, they are speeding up the clock on the inevitable. According to Zillow, Ocean City is projected to lose more homes than any other zip code in the United States– 22,384 properties worth a combined $6.2 billion.

How do you see your organization’s work evolving in the next few years?

We want to accelerate our compost program and introduce it to surrounding communities. By doing so, we can also expand into educating youth and government officials on the importance of great waste management. We also want to expand our zero-waste events to every event in the region. It would be ideal to introduce a Pay-As-You-Throw trash model to curb the waste (and has proven to work in other cities).

What are your thoughts on the waste crisis that we are living right now?

The waste crisis has been out of control for decades and even more with a broken recycling program. We need to think outside of the box and elect leaders who are willing to stand up to the challenge.

Do you collaborate/work with partners in other regions? If so, how?

We collaborate with the Energy Justice Network (EJN) and ILSR.org. EJN helps with consulting on the waste incinerator and ILSR has assisted us with our compost program.

How does your work relate to social justice?

By curbing our waste in Ocean City, we not only help local community members, but we protect our neighbors and friends in Chester, Pennsylvania, who suffer immense toxins from the release of the incinerator OCMD uses.

How has your work been impacted by the COVID crisis?

COVID has impacted our finances and volunteer efforts. We were expecting to collect larger data with composting, but the lack of visitors has impeded true results.

How do you envision a just and equitable recovery from COVID-19, and how can your organization’s work be part of the solution?

Unless the government makes large recovery efforts, COVID will be around for years. Our organization will stay focused on environmental efforts because currently, climate change has been pushed out of the narrative.

What is your favorite quote?

You can’t win together if you don’t work together.

— Nick Saban