You may have seen PittMoss’ CEO Mont Handley come out of Shark Tank with a $600,000 investment from Mark Cuban. No surprise. The quietly innovative company uses recycled paper as an effective and environmentally-sound alternative to peat moss, developing a proprietary product that not only has better moisture-holding capacity but also prevents the release of vast quantities of carbon that result from peat harvesting.
Another Braddock-based organization, Steel City Soils takes food waste and grass cuttings and via a corps of volunteers turns it into rich compost. The small operation sells compost at the Squirrel Hill Farmers Market and the East End Food Coop.
Pittsburgh-based Thread takes plastic water bottles and turns them into fabric. With Haiti as its first base of operations, the social enterprise creates jobs through plastic collection and sales. Thread then uses the resulting processed plastic flakes to make fabric that it sells to manufacturers. Thread has used over 1.26 million pounds of waste as raw materials and provided 100 Haitians with job training and professional development.
I co-founded 412 Food Rescue to address this disconnect: We waste 40% of our food while one in six of us goes hungry. 412 Food Rescue redirects viable food from farms, wholesalers, retailers and restaurants toward organizations that serve those who are food insecure. In six months and through the work of volunteers, 412 Food Rescue has redirected over 75,000 pounds of food from waste. Slated to release an app in the fall, the goal of our organization is the redirection of over 2,000,000 pounds of waste in Allegheny County in three years and expanding coverage to other cities.