Eclectic, green-themed 'Compost It' moves to Nichols Street

Compost It, Products for a Healthier Planet, has moved from Surina Business Park to the corner of Nichols and A streets.
Compost It, Products for a Healthier Planet, has moved from Surina Business Park to the corner of Nichols and A streets. 'I love these towels. They are so plush,' employee Elton Blackburn said of the towels made of 75 percent bamboo fiber. The store's products come from far and wide. Owner Maureen Marinkovich 'shuns sweatshops,' Blackburn said.
— image credit: Jim Scolman

By Brian Taylor

Despite the name, Compost It is not a compost store. “Compost It” is the store philosophy of providing products that reduce waste and toxic effects to the consumer and the environment.

According to proprietor Maureen Marinkovich, “My store helps support people who want to transition to a greener lifestyle.”

The small store, which moved to 115 Nichols St. at A Street the beginning of September, carries an eclectic variety of mostly green-themed products that makes for interesting browsing.

Marinkovich opened Compost It in October 2007 in the Surina Business Park. She started small with only three products — organic chicken feed (still the only organic chicken feed available on the island, she said), an oven and cookware cleaner that she has used for 16 years, and clay- and chalk-based paints that she has used for 12 years.

Initially, she “dragged customers into the store as they went by,” she said. Business expanded with word-of-mouth referrals, and she has had loyal customers “from the get-go.” Many of the new products in the store have been added from customer requests.

Green criteria
Most items in the store are naturally or organically made. Others are made from recycled or “upcycled” materials (things that would have been thrown away but have been reused to make something of value). Marinkovich also pays attention to durability because a product that lasts will not get thrown in the dump. She has researched every product in the store to make sure they meet her criteria and she can talk about them at length.

Compost It product categories include:

— Clay- and chalk-based paints. These paints from New Mexico have no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and smell better than regular paint. “You can paint around your kids,” Marinkovich said, and you can pour them down the drain with no ill environmental effects.

But you don’t have to pour the leftovers down the drain, because Compost It will buy back the remnants of your partially used cans in what Marinkovich calls her “clutter-free” program. No need to store remnants in the garage.

The store interior is painted with clay-based paint and Marinkovich said it wears well.

— Cleaning products. Compost It has both “transitional” cleaning products and more exotic cleaners, such as soap nuts from the Soapberry tree.

— Organic personal care products. Marinkovich uses these products, such as the hair wash, and carries them at the request of customers. “I don’t need a conditioner. I can’t use a regular shampoo anymore.”

— Textiles. Compost It has socks from regenerated yarns — “the finest green towels made,” according to the proprietor — as well as washable diapers, but also carries “the most earth-friendly disposable diaper” you can buy.

Many items are miscellaneous, such as the stainless-steel water bottle or the $15 student fountain pen.

Marinkovich also tries to find products as close to home as possible, such as the log carrier made by local business San Juan Canvas. The product is an example of “upcycling.”

Beyond meeting green criteria, Marinkovich looks for “unique products not offered elsewhere on the island. I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.”

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