Compost Program Starting in Chicago Neighborhood

Day 273 – I have written about composting on numerous occasions (Day 2, Day 118 and Day 149). The posts talk about an easier way to turn your food scraps into rich soil, without needing to do much work. The process is commercial composting and all you have to do is put your food scraps into a bucket and someone comes by and picks it up. No turning of compost piles and no worms necessary. It’s all very easy and so very important. Keeping the food out of the landfill helps reduce carbon emissions. My family of 6 can fill a 5 gallon bucket each week. I can only imagine what the local restaurants are throwing out. Imagine the impact if we could keep all that food from entering the landfill.

Well, a new pilot program in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood is trying to make this a reality. WasteNot Compost has partnered with the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce to launch Clark Street Composts. The program started on September 13th and includes over 20 restaurants, bars and other businesses, wanting to keep their compostable waste out of the landfill. The hope is that this program will be the gold standard for sustainable business practices and will encourage other businesses to start composting.

“Chicago‚Äôs 2.7 million residents rank final in the nation in phrases of recycling habits, with meals waste estimated to make up over 50% of landfill contents, and 17% of greenhouse gasses produced in the U.S. are a product of meals waste rotting in landfills.” – USA News Lab

It’s time Chicago starts becoming a leader in the environmental movement. We have been dragging our feet long enough.

Tomorrow, World Vegetarian Day.

Composting: Where have you been my whole life?

Day 2 – While I was looking for gift ideas for the entire family to enjoy this past holiday season, I came across composting kits. It’s been something I had been thinking about for a couple years, but never looked any further into the process. The pandemic had me rethinking a lot of things and having most of the family home all day, everyday, had made it very clear, we produce a great deal of waste. So, the thought of composting became even more appealing.

When I researched composting a little further, I came across commercial composting. I also found two companies that offer commercial composting in my neighborhood, Collective Resource Compost and WasteNot Compost. They both offer similar services for just about the same price. I decided to go with WasteNot Compost because I liked the zero emissions component to their business model. They also have a pretty cool origin story.

On Thursday, December 3rd, we received our first bucket. The whole process couldn’t be easier!

  1. We spend the week filling our bucket with our food scraps. We have a smaller receptacle on the counter that collects our scraps on a daily basis. I tapped into my inner Joanna Gaines when picking out my kitchen compost bin. Once, the smaller bin is filled, it is dumped in the 5 gallon bucket provided by WasteNot. The 5 gallon bucket is kept in the basement, where it is nice and cool.
  2. On Thursday mornings (the day assigned to us) the bucket goes out on the front porch. WasteNot picks up the bucket and leaves us a clean and sanitized, empty bucket.
  3. Every week we are charged $10 for the service. There are other options, but the weekly service made sense for our family.
  4. No liners are needed, in either the countertop bin or the 5 gallon bucket.

I realize the cost may deter some, but I figured we could adjust our expenses to make room for composting. It’s crazy to think, but one fast food meal for our family could cover the cost of six weeks of composting. The entire experience has been so easy and rather gratifying, I can’t believe we didn’t look into this sooner. We are now food rescuers instead of food wasters.

Here’s some food for thought; 80 billion pounds of food is thrown away each year in the U.S., approximately 219 pounds of waste per person and 30-40% of the U.S. food supply. – Recycle Track Systems

Here are a few other composting companies in the Chicagoland area:

  1. Healthy Soil Compost – south side of Chicago
  2. The Urban Canopy – Chicago and suburbs
  3. Northshore Composting – North Shore (Chicago suburbs)
  4. Block Bins – Chicago and suburbs – A great option for entire blocks to chip in on one bin!

Tomorrow, I’ll share information about how to recycle your old Christmas lights.