Unique way to change culture of sustainability

A volunteer displays the Code of Return Compost collection buckets alongside Maria Vaughn and Michael Wedum.
A volunteer displays the Code of Return Compost collection buckets alongside Maria Vaughn and Michael Wedum.
Thunderbolt residents and restaurants looking to make a difference have a unique opportunity to change the culture of sustainability in their community through composting with the help and guidance of local startup Code of Return Compost.

The Thunderbolt Pilot Program is slated to begin July 31 at Wesley Oak United Methodist Church at 3124 E. Victory Dr. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., where residents can register for a one-time $10 fee and receive their introduction packet consisting of a collection bucket, lid, magnet with list of acceptable waste and a small bag of compost.

This 60-day event encourages participants to collect and divert organic waste with the goal of positively affecting water conservation, addressing sewage issues and decreasing community maintenance costs.

click to enlarge Michael Wedum dumps a bucket of compost into one of the new Code of Return Compost bins. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF CODE OF RETURN COMPOST
Photos courtesy of Code of Return Compost
Michael Wedum dumps a bucket of compost into one of the new Code of Return Compost bins.
Compost deposits can then be made anytime at the community garden where they can be weighed and recorded. After the kick off, sign up for the Thunderbolt station will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday at the Forsyth Farmers Market.

Founded in 2019 by married couple Maria Vaughan and Michael Wedum, Code of Return Compost began through their own personal pursuit of home sustainability and developed into a passion to make an impact on local and global issues.

“Code of Return was imagined with a vision to break the stigmas associated with compost and create an opportunity to make an impact environmentally, socially and economically,” Vaughan said.

“Sustainability benefits literally everyone and helps ensure we have future access to the natural resources we depend on by recycling or regenerating it for future use.”

With the results of the Thunderbolt Pilot Program, Code of Return Compost hopes to bring awareness and education with the ultimate goal of compost bins being available for all, just like trash and recycling receptacles. Waste has to be handled from one location to its disposal, and this solution, while simple, makes a huge impact in the regenerative movement.

Wedum said, “Think about how long it took to create the infrastructure we have today in sanitation, and the fact that you have it picked up from your front curb. Now imagine that the support of this movement could be just as simple.”

Beginning Aug. 2, Thunderbolt restaurants can participate for 60 days as well, and Code of Return Compost will provide bins and weekly pick up days to collect compost. Finches Sandwiches & Sundries, located at 2600 Mechanics Ave. in Thunderbolt, is an early adopter of the initiative and will be on site July 31 for the resident launch handing out popsicles. They will also offer a complimentary coffee to anyone dropping off compost during the duration of the pilot program.

click to enlarge Michael Wedum works with Code of Return Compost volunteers to collect and divert organic waste. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF CODE OF RETURN COMPOST
Photos courtesy of Code of Return Compost
Michael Wedum works with Code of Return Compost volunteers to collect and divert organic waste.
“We’re excited to be part of this initiative,” said Finches Owner Rebecca Matthews. “It’s overdue for Savannah, so the opportunity is one we are jumping at. The turn-key aspect of composting with Code of Return is only half of the draw for us; it’s frankly the right thing to do environmentally.

Even if it takes a little extra effort, this should be the industry standard from here on out.”

A victory party to celebrate the success of the residential and restaurant initiatives is planned for October where results will be announced, and Code of Return Compost is hoping to have a lot to celebrate.

“It’s time we capture this valuable resource for what it is, and the Thunderbolt Pilot Program is just another step to making it a simple, normal reality,” Vaughan said.

To learn about Code of Return Compost, visit corcompost.com. To support the cause, visit customink.com/fundraising/compost.