Join the Morton Grove Environment and Natural Resources Commission at the Morton Grove Sustainability Expo. This free event is family friendly, all are welcome, and encouraged to attend.
Over 30+ vendors and exhibitors. Come learn about solar options in IL, sign up for a free energy audit, pick up a sapling to plant, design an eco-focus button, pick up some native plants, eco-friendly tools, or learn about composting, recycling, green lawn care and more!
Stop by the Go Green Morton Grove table for some free native plant seeds and enjoy a fun activity to show how your efforts to go green help us all combat climate change.
Don’t miss the electric car show!
Event will be inside and outdoors at the Morton Grove Civic Center: 6140 Dempster Street in Morton Grove.
One can only hope that there is a sustainability expo coming to your neighborhood in the near future.
“SGA works with local government, community and private sector leaders to help communities make the changes they need to build a healthy and sustainable future. Through community-wide sustainability planning and implementation, project design and implementation, educational conferences and forums, community network development, consulting, and programs, SGA is a catalyst for local community solutions to global environmental issues. SGA’s work covers a broad range of sustainability topic areas, including: energy efficiency and renewable energy; transportation; healthy community development; waste reduction; water conservation; green business; procurement; local, sustainable food; healthy eating; open space and ecosystem enhancement; and sustainability education.” – Seven Generations Ahead
Seven Generations Ahead works with various networks, in order to achieve sustainability and healthy communities.
PlanItGreen is the sustainability plan for the communities of Oak Park and River Forest, Illinois.
“IFSN is comprised of teachers, early care providers, food service staff, farmers, students, and others who are working to change food purchasing and education practices in their communities. The network provides training, connects partners, and shares resources about all aspects of farm to school– including local food sourcing, hands-on nutrition education, and school gardening.” – SGA
Seven Generations Ahead also created a project called It’s Our Future. The project will equip young leaders in Oak Park/River Forest to advocate for climate change solutions that benefit all members of our community.
Seven Generations Ahead is an amazing resource for any community. They are committed to building a healthy and sustainable future for us all.
Tomorrow, a company that will recycle your batteries, for a fee.
In 2020, the City of Chicago generated 4.13 million tons of materials. That includes waste from residents, institutional, commercial and industrial.
Annually, approximately 40,000 to 44,000 tons of yard waste are generated from low density residential structures in Chicago, but very little has been collected through 311 pickup requests.
High contamination rates strain recycling equipment and lessen the value of recycled commodities.
From 2015 to 2020, there was an average of over 75,000 tons of materials collected each month; an average of 9 percent of which was diverted from landfills.
Private companies and high-density residential buildings are not required to report their rates for garbage collection service.
While some service areas show relatively consistent performance over time, there is a general trend of declining performance across all areas (relating to recycling).
CPS manages waste and recycling services for 642 schools.
Increased material diversion through reuse and recycling has potential to create more jobs than would be created through disposal.
The Illinois Commodity/Waste Generation and Characterization Study Update published in 2015 calculated the market value of recyclable materials, including subcategories of paper, plastic, glass, and metal, that were ending up in landfills. The study found that the value of these materials was more than $360 million.
The study found that slightly over a quarter of material placed in Blue Cart bins is unrecyclable contamination, including recyclable materials in plastic bags.
Making cans from recycled aluminum requires 95 percent less energy and generates 90 percent less green house gas emissions than virgin stock.
In 2004, there were eight active landfills in the region, and as of 2020, there are only four. These four landfills had an average life expectancy of 12.4 years as of January 2020. There are no active landfills in Chicago or Cook County.
In addition to landfills in Illinois, Chicago’s waste is disposed across state lines in Indiana. In 2019, over 2.6 million tons of waste generated in Cook County (including the city of Chicago) were sent to six landfill locations in Indiana.
On average, each Chicago resident generates a little over 3 pounds of waste per day at home, or a little under 3,000 pounds of waste per year for each Chicago household.
COMMUNITY EDUCATION PROGRAMS MATTER.
Here’s a list of things the city offers that you might not know about.
Since 2014, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), in partnership with Seven Generations Ahead and Lakeshore Recycling Systems, has been expanding a commercial composting pilot program to reduce organic waste, improve purchasing, and provide waste diversion education to CPS students, faculty, and staff. The program has expanded to 14 CPS schools and (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic conditions) resulted in over 2,500 pounds of materials diverted from landfills every day.
Yard waste collection is available to Chicago residents through the 311-request program.
Composting is available through commercial composting companies, Illinois Food Scrap Coalition and Zero Waste Chicago.
In 2020, the Chicago Department of Public Health and Department of Streets and Sanitation introduced a pilot program offering rotating e-waste drop off service at district sanitation offices.
The Chicago Department of Public Health (in partnership with the Chicago Police Department) provides for pharmaceutical disposal at police stations across the city. In addition, there are secure drop off sites located at hospital centers, select pharmacies, and at water reclamation plants managed by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD).
Foam packaging and food service containers are not accepted in Blue Cart bins or City drop off locations. Dart Container Corporation offers free drop off collection at 7575 S. Kostner Avenue for all polystyrene foam except for packing peanuts, which can often be reused for shipping.
Shredded paper is not accepted in Blue Cart bins because it clings to and contaminates other items and does not respond to recycling equipment like whole paper. The City, Aldermen, and other organizations sponsor events for personal document shredding and collection (or collection of pre-shredded paper) for residents.
Flexible plastic film, including plastic bags and common packing materials, can become tangled and damage recycling equipment, and is not accepted in Blue Cart bins. Recyclables placed in Blue Carts should also not be bagged. This material can be recycled if collected separately, and several Chicago grocery stores and businesses host collection sites for plastic film. A list of participating businesses by zip code can be found at PlasticFilmRecycling.org
Chicago Public Libraries have hosted innovative Repair Cafes and other programs to better manage Chicago’s materials.
Here’s some ideas of how the city wants to reduce our waste.
Reframe Chicago’s materials as resources, instead of waste.
Identify opportunities to include goal setting, metrics, and data sharing to demonstrate progress and increase transparency.
Equip consumers with the education and tolls needed to drive innovation in evolving waste systems.
Increase transparency in the process and build trust among Chicago’s residents more efficiently.
Shift the cultural norms towards circularity and away from traditional disposal models.
Maintaining clear and consistent messaging around recycling contamination.
Developing a directory of participating retail take-back options for e-waste and household hazardous waste in Chicago.
Establishing a revenue-sharing partnership with a textile recycling company for collection of clothes, shoes, and other textiles otherwise ending up in landfills.
Chicago has a long way to go when it comes to sustainability. However, I do believe we have the potential to become better and even become a leader on the ways a large city addresses waste, reuse, recycling, and building a circular economy. It won’t be easy and it will take residents, commercial business, industrial corporations and institutions to help improve our current conditions.
Day 183 – Half the year is over and my family has made a lot of changes for the better. However, we still have another half to go, to learn and share ways to help protect our planet. Some changes have stuck, while others didn’t make the cut. I thought I would share what is working and what has not.
Our Top Ten Most Loved Changes
Composting – On Day 2, Day 118 and Day 149, I have written about how awesome composting is and how using Waste Not Compost has changed our lives. For anyone wanting to make a difference, this is my #1 suggestion. Since, starting back in December 2020, my family of six has diverted 258 pounds of food waste from the landfill. Instead that food has created nutrient rich soil. Anyone that can add $10 to their weekly budget, should be composting!
Recycling through the North Park Recycling Center – On Day 4, I wrote about how my family stopped putting our recyclables in the blue bin. After finding out how dismal our recycling percentage is in the city, I decided to send our recyclables to the North Park Village Recycling Center. We go once a month and sometimes I can stretch it out to two months. If you can avoid putting your recyclables in the blue bin and can find a reliable recycler, I encourage you to go that route.
Using a Zero Waste Box – On Day 77, I wrote about how we invested in a TerraCycle Zero Waste Box. It has actually been three boxes. I first purchased a candy wrapper and snack bag box, thinking that would cover a lot of non-recyclable waste we were producing. I then moved into the kitchen box, which accepted many other things, like plastic packaging, paper Packaging, cleaning accessories, coffee and tea accessories, party supplies and dining disposables, interior home furnishings, prescription drug packaging, fabrics and clothing. I have finally came to the realization that the All-in-one box is the way to go. Just a few of the items accepted in the All-in-one box: art supplies, books & magazines, E-waste, eye wear, home cleaning accessories, fabrics, and clothing, office supplies, pet products (non-food), plastic cards, shipping materials, storage media, plastic and paper packaging, kitchen gear, filters (air/water), coffee capsules and coffee bags, party supplies and dining disposables. With the help of zero waste boxes, we have gone from two bags of garbage a week to one bag of garbage every three weeks.
Reusable produce bags and storage bags – On Day 13 and Day 34, I wrote about how we switched to reusable produce bags and storage bags. This has been a game changer. The amount of plastic produce bags and Ziploc Storage bags (of all sizes) that we have avoided is substantial. This change is a no brainer and very easy to do!
Blueland Products – On Day 21, I wrote about switching our cleaning products to Blueland and their line of plastic free products. We have know had a chance to use every product, but the glass cleaner and dish soap (still working on our original supply). We love every product, especially the foaming hand soap and dishwasher tablets. It feels so good to avoid purchasing all those cleaning products in plastic bottles. It’s also awesome that all the Blueland tablets arrive in compostable packaging.
Who Gives a Crap – On Day 26, I wrote about switching to Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. This has been a real feel good purchase. Not only are we saving trees by using toilet paper made from recycled paper, but the company donates funds to build toilets in countries without such facilities. Love this company!
Cloth Napkins – On Day 38, I wrote about how we have cut back on our paper towel use. A big thanks goes to my sister-in-law for making us cloth napkins that we use everyday, for every meal. Because of these pretty pieces of cloth, we have drastically cut back on our paper towel use.
Plastic free laundry detergent – On Day 51, I wrote about ditching the liquid laundry detergent in the plastic bottle and going with Meliora’s powered detergent in a reusable canister. I have been using the detergent for months and have been very happy with it. I love that cleaning my laundry has become plastic free.
Reducing the purchase of food in plastic containers – This one hasn’t been easy, but by cutting some products out of our lives and switching to glass or aluminum packaging, we have reduced our plastic waste. We no longer purchase spreadable butter and have avoided purchasing fruit in plastic packaging (strawberries and blueberries), just to name a few changes we have made. We will continue to work on this one.
The switch to plastic free toiletries – We have made the switch to bar soap in plastic free packaging, bamboo toothbrushes and plastic free deodorant. We recycle our toothpaste tubes and shampoo bottles though TerraCycle.
What didn’t work out
Reusable shaver – On Day 71, I wrote about how I switched to a reusable shaver. Unfortunately, I have found that I am not a very skilled shaver. I had numerous cuts, but the last one was a doozy. I decided that for now, I needed to go back to a safer option. I am using a Gillette razor with replaceable blades and recycling those blades through TerraCycle.
Misfits Market – On Day 36, I wrote about how we started a biweekly (every two weeks) subscription to Misfits Markets. We received shipments for numerous months. A couple weeks ago we decided to suspend our prescription. We had three orders with items missing and replaced with products we did not want. I was also not a fan of the packaging. Even though it was all recyclable, there was a lot. We are making a point to visit farms markets this summer to enjoy locally grown produce.
As you can see, almost all the changes we have made are working and we don’t mind doing them. They are all easy and not too difficult to implement. What changes are you ready to make?
Tomorrow, celebrating International Plastic Bag Free Day.
Day 180 – One of the best ways to celebrate summer is having a block party. Gathering the neighbors for some food and fun has been a wonderful tradition shared by countless neighborhoods throughout the years. This year is extra special, since last summer we were not able to gather together.
Here are some suggestions on how you can have an amazing block party, while still being environmentally friendly.
Don’t use disposable tablecloths – Invest in reusable tablecloths that can be used year after year. I found a great deal on tablecloths at Home Goods. There are also a variety of reusable tablecloths made from recycled material.
Ditch the plastic cutlery – Not everyone has a plethora of kitchen cutlery to put out for guests. However, there are reusable options that can replace the typical disposable plasticware. Preserve is just one brand that offers reusable plasticware that can be used countless times. They are dishwasher safe and can be recycled through the companies take back program. Just make sure you tell your guests to not throw out the cutlery.
Switch from disposable to reusable plates – Paper plates are very easy, but they do add to landfill waste. Choosing a reusable option is ideal. Preserve offers reusable plates. Like their cutlery, they are dishwasher safe and can be recycled, once they can no longer be used. They also offer compostable plates as do many other companies. If you must use disposable plates, always choose paper over styrofoam.
No water bottles – A fraction of the plastic water bottles that end up in recycling, actually end up getting recycled. So, the best way to avoid this problem is to avoid using plastic water bottles. Try to use large containers to hold water and encourage your guests to bring a water bottle or glass to fill. You can also provide a reusable cup option, instead of the usual disposable SOLO cup. If you end up using SOLO cups, check out TerraCycles free recycling program. Aluminum cups are another plastic free option.
Compost food waste – Check to see if any of neighbors are composting. If they are composting at home, they might be able to take a little extra. If they are commercial composting, they can request an additional bin or two to collect food waste from the block party. There’s no doubt block parties can produce a great deal of food waste. Many dishes sitting outside for numerous hours are usually not saved for future meals.
Avoid the individual snacks – Try to purchase in bulk when buying snacks for your party. The packaging from individually wrapped snacks will add up. This type of packaging is not recyclable and will end up in the trash.
Encourage neighbors to power off – Remind your neighbors to turn off lights and electronics while outside enjoying the block party. Block party day is the perfect excuse to unplug and get outdoors to spend time with the neighbors.
Have recycling stations – If you will have items that can be reused or recycled, be sure to have a few places where neighbors can drop off those items and avoid putting them in the trash.
Avoid using paper towels – Block party clean up is inevitable. Consider using reusable rags instead of paper towels. This will considerably cutback your waste.
Have fun! – Keep your fingers crossed for good weather, enjoy the day and feel good about putting the extra effort into making your block party environmentally friendly.
Day 149 – I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when I hear someone has started to compost. A friend, my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law have all started composting at home using commercial composting. They have made the decision to reduce their carbon footprint by diverting food from the landfill and helping create nutrient rich soil, instead.
Today is National Learn About Composting Day! I have spent the last 6 months telling anyone who wants to listen, how awesome it has been to compost our food scraps and many other nonfood items. On Day 2, way back on January 2nd, I posted about how my family started composting using a commercial composter. I wrote about the ease of the entire process and how it’s not as labor intensive as composting at home. Now, if creating an at home compost pile is up your alley, I highly encourage you to go for it. However, if you’re like me, the simpler the better and commercial composting is the answer!
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. Once, the smaller bin is filled, it is dumped in the 5 gallon bucket provided by WasteNot Compost (for $10 a week). The 5 gallon bucket is kept in the basement, where it is nice and cool.
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.
No liners are needed, in either the countertop bin or the 5 gallon bucket.
Not only can all of your food waste go into the bin, but so can napkins, paper towels, wood toothpicks, popsicle sticks (wooden), pizza boxes, compostable wrappers, and soiled paper products.
The United States discards more food than any other country in the world: nearly 80 billion pounds, every year. That’s estimated to be 30-40% of the entire U.S. food supply. While these numbers seem difficult to comprehend and the situation seems out of control. We, the consumers, can help. We can decrease the greenhouse gases emitted from food waste, by keeping our scraps out of the landfill. According to the World Wildlife Federation, the production of wasted food in the United States is equivalent to the greenhouse emissions of 37 million cars.
There is no doubt that food waste is a global problem and it’s going to take consumers (produce 43% of food waste), restaurants, grocery stores, food service companies (40%), farms (16%) and manufacturers (2%) to work together to first, reduce our food waste and secondly, keep it out of landfills.
So, on this National Learn About Composting Day, take a little time to consider either starting your own compost pile or check out the numerous composting companies that will be happy to do all the work for you.
Day 118 – I truly believe most people try to be responsible with food and avoid wasting as much as they can. However, there are situations that come along that make it impossible to save all the food we purchase. The occasional piece of produce that gets overlooked and goes bad. The new recipe that no one liked and did not eat. The leftovers that sat in the refrigerator and eventually became a science project. It’s hard to completely avoid throwing something out each week. Thankfully, there are options to turn that food waste into something beneficial.
I have talked to people with strong feelings about composting. Some of those people love composting, while others are disgusted by the idea. Some love the task of turning their own food waste into soil, rich in nutrients. While others, can’t imagine working with worms. So, for those people, just the word, “composting”, turns them off. Well, I’m here to say, don’t be afraid. Commercial composting is for everyone not wanting or just not ready to take on home composting.
On Day 2, I shared my family’s experience with commercial composting and how easy it is and how infrequently we need to take our garbage out. The process is also, affordable and unbelievably rewarding. Just knowing our food waste is not ending up in a landfill, doing nothing more than taking up space and producing harmful greenhouse gases, is enough to put a smile on my face. To date, my family has diverted 105 pounds of food waste from the landfill in the last 5 months. And if that wasn’t enough, I found out a few weeks ago that my household was eligible to receive a 40 pound bag of soil, at no addition charge, from our commercial composting company, WasteNot Compost.
This past weekend, I picked up my bag of soil, in what can only be described as one of the easiest processes that I have been a part of. I drove up, opened my trunk and the bag of soil was placed in my car. All I had to do was give my name. I have never been one to get excited about gardening, but I can honestly say, I am looking forward to planting my garden this season.
If there is only one thing you do after reading my daily blog posts, composting is at the top of the list. Diverting food waste from the landfill is crucial to improving the state of our planet. It is something we should all be doing.
So, on this Stop Food Waste Day, stop throwing away food and start creating a healthier planet.
Zero Waste Boxes collect anything from candy and snack wrappers to cassette tapes. They have boxes for pretty much anything. I purchased the Kitchen Separation box. The kitchen has been the most challenging room in the house when it comes to going zero waste. Food packaging is difficult to avoid and recycle. It’s the frozen fry bag, the shredded cheese bag, the tortilla chip bag, and so on and so on. All of this packaging used to go into the garbage and now it goes into the Zero Waste Box.
Some say that the existence of TerraCycle is encouraging companies to continue making products that are disposable and non-recyclable. I say, TerraCycle exists to help us on our journey to zero waste. We may never reach the end of that journey, but we can improve along the way. There is nothing easy about living a life of zero waste and it most certainly does not happen overnight. TerraCycle is there to help us recycle our trash, while we make adjustments to minimize the waste we produce.
After you order your Zero Waste Box and it arrives at your home or workplace, the collecting begins. Most of my trash that I put in the Kitchen Waste box is plastic bags (food packaging). I could put many other items in the box (plastic packaging, paper packaging, filters, cleaning accessories, coffee and tea accessories, party supplies and dining disposables, interior home furnishings, prescription drug packaging, fabrics and clothing), but I have found using the box for plastic packaging has been the most beneficial.
Now, the not so great news. The Zero Waste Boxes are not cheap. The cost of the box pays for the shipping of the box to TerraCycle and the recycling of the items in the box. It takes a real commitment to want to pay for these boxes and for many, it’s just not in the budget to cover the cost. If you’re interested, but the price tag is discouraging, I suggest you start a Zero Waste Box fund. Place loose change in a jar and save up that way. Or you could even suggest a Zero Waste Box for a gift suggestion around the holidays or for your birthday. If there is a will, there is a way. I collected my plastic food packaging in a regular brown box until I was able to purchase my first box. I also suggest that you sign-up for an account with TerraCycle, so you’ll receive updates and news when there is a sale on Zero Waste Boxes. And they do have sales.
With the help of the Zero Waste Box, recycling and the incredible ease of composting with Waste Not Compost, my family of six has gone from two bags of garbage (minimum) per week to one bag of garbage every two weeks. So we have gone from producing 104 bags of waste (on the low end) per year to just 24. Can we do better? There’s no doubt we can. We’ve only been at this new way of living for 3 months.
Day 48 – SCARCE was founded in 1990, when gently used books were rescued from the landfill and placed in the hands of those that needed them the most. Now, over 30 years later they have grown into an organization that is educating and helping others to make a meaningful difference in their communities and the environment.
SCARCE does the following:
SCARCE provides award-winning programs that teach people how and why they should care for the Earth. Whether you are with a school, business, non-profit, or community group, they will help you make a positive impact for our planet.
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!
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.
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.
Every week we are charged $10 for the service. There are other options, but the weekly service made sense for our family.
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: