Heine Brothers’ Coffee has been on the path to greater sustainability for many years. We’ve been recycling our milk jugs, bottles, cans, newspapers, magazines and cardboard from our now nine stores. The city doesn’t yet offer commercial recycling so we pay our staff to box up our recyclables, load them into our van and take them to the recycling center a couple times each week. We figure it’s our trash, so it’s our responsibility to recycle it.
In 2006, company co-owners Mike Mays and Gary Heine wondered how to turn the 60 tons of coffee grounds our cafes produce each year into a resource instead of throwing it into the landfill. The result was Breaking New Grounds, a non-profit that composts our coffee grounds with other local food waste, and shredded newspaper and cardboard from our stores. This compost is then fed to thousands of redworms who ingest it and excrete it as worm compost – a rich soil nutrient that holds water and adds texture to garden or houseplant soil. We sell the bags of worm compost, Life’s Magic, in our stores to help support an urban farm in one of Louisville’s many food deserts (an area with little or no access to healthy, locally grown foods) where we make compost, and grow food, farmers, and jobs for our neighbors.
Breaking New Grounds is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to growing food, connecting neighbors, and transforming waste into wealth. The Breaking New Grounds concept is to develop a neighborhood-based, community food system with local farmers and other partners across the city that will:
- Grow food, grow farmers and grow jobs.
- Empower local farmers, our neighbors and ourselves to create healthy worm compost, bountiful food gardens, nutritious food, neighborhood-based economic development and community from food and other waste that is currently landfilled.
- Provide healthy food to neighbors and local non-profits.
- Provide new job skills and incomes in neighborhoods where residents are underemployed.