Pashon Murray

Pashon Murray, Detroit DirtPhoto: Doug Coombe
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    Detroit Dirt
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A lot of people think of composting as small-scale, backyard business—the work of eco-conscious home cooks tossing eggshells into a bucket of soil—but Murray is leading a major composting revolution in Detroit. Through her organization Detroit Dirt, Murray is diverting tens of thousands of tons of food waste a year away from landfills and into a closed-loop composting system she built from the ground up. (Last year, Detroit Dirt diverted 51,000 tons away from landfills; Murray projects that that number will be 70,000 by the end of this year.) Then she’s redistributing that soil to bolster Detroit’s sustainable urban farming community. “Twenty percent of our nation’s landfills are taken up by food waste. It makes no sense,” she says. Murray is currently the only paid employee at Detroit Dirt, but she has a sweeping vision for making the city one of the greenest in the country. She knows she can’t do it singlehandedly. “I’ve started helping out at public schools and getting them to understand why we need to teach composting to young people,” she says. “They’re going to be managing the future technology in this field. This really is about the next generation.”