by Dusan Koleno for SUST 240
According to the EPA, food waste and yard trimmings make up almost 1/3 of our waste. The vast majority of this waste goes straight to landfills and not to composting facilities. However, there are cities and villages that are trying to change this situation.
One such example is the Village of Oak Park in the suburbs of Chicago. Residents of Oak Park may participate in a program called CompostAble. For $14 a month they get everything they need for storing of food and yard waste. Then every week it is picked up by the garbage truck together with their other waste. The difference is that their food waste goes to a composting facility. In the end, twice a year, they get compost that could be used in their gardens and lawns.
Oak Park is not the only place in the area that is trying to make difference. The City of Highland Park started its own composting program similar to the one in Oak Park in the beginning of 2013. Unfortunately, it was suspended just after four months. The City of Highland Park was using a facility in Waukegan for their composting program, but local residents were complaining about the odors and facility stopped accepting the food waste from Highland Park. Right now, as of late 2014, the program is still on hiatus.
Therefore, it is important to plan and prepare composting programs thoroughly, so they will be successful. Let’s hope that officials from Highland Park will find viable alternatives to the facility in Waukegan because it would be sad to see so much effort go to “waste.” We need to have more such places in order to get the attention of the general public and enable the establishment of more composting programs. For now, if you are living in a place without a community composting program and you are willing to invst a little time getting a backyard or indoor system set up, you still can do composting on your own. It is always good to see that the composting is on the rise and maybe one day it will be as common as recycling.
Each week during the Fall 2014 semester, students in Prof. Mike Bryson’s SUST 210 Sustainable Future and SUST 240 Waste classes at Roosevelt University will contribute blog posts on urban and suburban sustainability issues to the Schaumburg’s Sustainable Future website.