At Upcycle & Company, we believe that sustainability starts at home. And that doing it right means doing it locally. That’s why we’re rabid fans of the “Grow Food, Not Lawns” movement. It’s also the primary reason Native Soil is sourced 100% locally in Southern California. We’re adamant about giving the 38 billion gallons of waste water the United States produces daily new life and new opportunity as part of the Future Friendly Fertilizer, Native Soil.
Tell us, what can you do today in your local community to promote sustainability?
If you follow us on Instagram (and you should), you may have noticed our good friend and mentor @BrianSnow is featuring our CEO and Founder, Jared Criscuolo, in his 10 x 10 Founders series. San Diego wastewater is the reason we’re here.
How it All Began
You may not know the story behind Upcycle and Company. Why it came to be. Well, that’s unless you’ve spent more than five minutes together with Jared or myself. If the elevator is going more than 6 floors, you’re going to hear about the genesis of the company.
See, Jared isn’t from San Diego while I am. Local San Diegans know to stay out of the surf for a few days after any rainstorm. A normal rainstorm will produce some significant runoff from the city. That, unto itself, is a shame since we’re in such an arid climate, but we’ll visit that topic later. Now, a heavy regional rainstorm will produce not only runoff from San Diego but from our neighbor to the south, Tijuana.
Who Puts the Waste in San Diego Wastewater?
Tijuana’s wastewater treatment plant is notoriously awful. It is old, and it is seriously overworked. The Tijuana River Valley has been a regional issue for at least the last 30 years. More than likely longer, but that’s about as far back as I can remember. Now we love our brethren to the south, but this is one gift San Diego could probably do without. They’re doing a good deal too, but that’s a long time off.
So, after this rainstorm, Jared, not being a local, paddled out. He thought it was amazing to have the surf to himself. Not that he is greedy, but anyone who surfs knows it is always nice to be able to drop in on any wave you wish. That’s a luxury. Or so he thought.
Long story short, Jared got sick. Of course he did. He paddled out after a storm. This was the birth of Jared’s infatuation with wastewater issues and local ocean sustainability.
As Jared explained in his speech at #GetStartedSD, there are really only two ways to address San Diego wastewater issues. The first, fee-based litigation. It can be effective. Just ask Erin Brockovich, but it can also be expensive. The expensive fee, and the need to hang together as a class are the angst points of the story. The second, good old-fashioned capitalism.
Jared’s work with Surfrider lead him to start a consulting firm, Rising Tide Partners, which focused on regional wastewater issues. Water is a precious resource in San Diego, and because of that, the wastewater agencies and treatment facilities are integral to the region’s sustainability.
Satisfied with promoting the laudable work the local wastewater treatment facilities were doing, Jared knew he wanted to do more. He had to do more.
The New Vision
Jared’s vision was to push waste further. Inspired by the local food movement, Jared knew he was onto something. How do we ensure food is produced not only locally, but sustainably. Native Soil was the answer to the San Diego wastewater problem.
Through his work with one of the local wastewater agencies, Jared discovered biosolids. The leftover waste product when water is treated from waste to potable and released back into the local reservoir system. These come in a few classes, B, A, and Grade A, Exceptional Quality. It is this latter product that was the missing component to the Native Soil vision.
Native Soil is a blend of spent beer grains from San Diego’s booming craft brew industry, algae cell walls left over from carbon recapture and biofuel production, and Grade AEQ biosolids.
Native Soil then is a product that just makes sense. Food should be grown locally, not shipped halfway around the world. We can grow our own food, in our own backyards using fertilizer sustainably sourced in that same backyard.
What Native Soil Is
Native Soil is a local, sustainably sourced fertilizer using nothing but three upcycled waste products from right here in Southern California. Further, it is at least, if not more, effective than Certified Organic fertilizers at 25% less cost per pound to the consumer. In short, you get sustainable local plants for less money. That what is called a win-win in good old-fashioned capitalism.
If you’re not quite ready, sign up for our email list on the left hand column of this page, or join us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, to receive exclusive discounts, offers, and giveaways just for our fans.
Let us know what you think about Native Soil. We’re proud of what we’ve produced and are always ecstatic to discuss it. Just remember that if you ever find yourself in an elevator with an Upcycle member. We’re going to tell you about how we #PutWastetoWork
No two ways about it. The market for “Certified Organic” is enormous. The worldwide market has grown from $27 Billion in 2011 to more than $50 Billion today. Unfortunately, there is little to suggest that that term is little more than a well orchestrated organic marketing campaign.
Mythbusting the Organic Marketing Campaign
Now, there’s nothing intrinsically nefarious about the process of organic farming. It is okay, but organic farming practices are presented as the gold standard of healthy of agriculture practices. Unfortunately, there’s not much to support that claim.
A blog post that appeared in Scientific American in 2011 went through and busted so many of the widely held, but errant beliefs the general public holds when it comes to organic food production.
In fact, when studies were conducted in the UK about the efficacy of organic food, the results were pretty underwhelming.
Strong organic proponents also argue that organic food tastes better. In the same poll where 95% of UK organic consumers said they buy organic to avoid pesticides, over two-thirds of respondents said organic produce and meats taste better than non-organic ones. But when researchers had people put their mouths to the test, they found that people couldn’t tell the difference between the two in blind taste tests.
When they pushed further, experts weighed in.
“Any consumers who buy organic food because they believe that it contains more healthful nutrients than conventional food are wasting their money.” – Joseph D. Rosen (Professor Emeritus in Food Toxicology at Rutgers University)
The Organic Marketing Campaign
It isn’t that we detest organic farming or organic food production. All things considered, there’s nothing inherently wrong with organic farming. What we have a problem with is the organic marketing campaign that is feeding consumers falsehoods that make it seem as though organic food is some kind of panacea.
That simply isn’t the case. Organic farming and organic production methods are but one of many responsible, healthy, and sustainable production methods. When it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Marketing is marketing. This is little different than “Where’s the Beef?” or “I’d like to buy the world a coke.”
When we say “we’re better than organic, and that’s on purpose.” This is what we mean.
We’re extremely excited to announce that Upcycle and Company has been selected as one of five finalists for Cox Communication’s #GetStartedSD start-up competition. Thursday night, Jared Criscuolo will be giving his pitch for why Upcycle is the most interesting and innovative start-up in San Diego.
One of the most exciting aspects of being part of a start up is the culture. The culture that says, we can do anything. We are going to beg forgiveness instead of asking for permission. It’s a pioneering attitude and, well, it leads to a lot of mistakes. Perhaps “mistake” isn’t the right work. The connotation is too negative. They are more accidents. Happy accidents.
We’ll keep plowing ahead on our mission to create a friendly future. In the meantime, you can read all about our latest… accident… in the San Diego Business Journal.
Let us know what you think the comments and don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.
Hello Future Friendly Gardeners. Jared, our founder and CEO, was on the Garden America radio show this past Saturday morning discussing a bit of the history and benefits of Native Soil.
You may not know it, but Jared is actually originally from the East Coast. At Upcycle, we don’t hold that against him. Well, not that much anyway.
The genesis for Upcycle and Native Soil came from when Jared went surfing after a storm here in San Diego. Locals know that the run off from the city and from the Tijuana River Valley creates a virtual bacteria laden soup very near the shoreline. In short, locals don’t go surfing after a storm. Jared didn’t know that and saw a deserted break as a great opportunity.
Then he got sick.
That downtime during his illness was all it took to get passionately involved with water cleanliness and wastewater issues in general. Through that experience, the individual waste products that would come together to form the Native Soil all purpose blend were discovered.
If you’d like to learn more about Native Soil, spend 15 minutes hearing about it direct from the horse’s mouth. While you’re listening, head over to our coupon site and grab your discount for Native Soil on Amazon Prime.
Criscuolo moved to San Diego from the East Coast seeking the sun and surf more than a decade ago. He’d surfed in the Atlantic during summers as a kid, and was looking forward to living near the ocean full time.
The first time he surfed after a rainstorm, however, Criscuolo became ill. He was unaware that the water becomes polluted after rain due to runoff from the city. He had to call in sick during his first week at a new job.
“When they told me it was because I surfed after a rainstorm, I was shocked,” Criscuolo said. “That’s not a rule on the East Coast. And how is that acceptable?”
Jared also covers the latest market growth of Native Soil and touches on just a few of the benefits.
Criscuolo turned his backyard into a laboratory, testing different combinations of the biosolids with other sources of local waste products that have high nutrient density. He picked up coffee grounds waste from coffee shops, algae waste from the production of spirulina, and brewer’s waste from the production of beer.
He found a formulation that made his garden thrive, tested it at third party labs, and found that his formula could trump many existing fertilizers on the market.
“There’s seven times more nutrient content than organic and conventional fertilizer at 25 percent less price,” Criscuolo said.
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