food scraps

Want to Compost in Chicago?

It’s hard to believe we have been using a composting service in the city for almost 5 years now. And I have a lot of content on it!

I have been using Healthy Soil Compost since 2016 at home and even had them compost at my wedding in 2018.

For those of you who are interested in starting a compost journey, I wanted to pull together a little guide on all the options for composting services in Chicago I am familiar with. Each provides you with a 5-gallon bucket for you to fill up that can be picked up at different intervals (besides Block Bins, see below).

Healthy Soil Compost

  • Services:
    • Commercial
    • Residential
    • Events & Seasonal (yard waste, pumpkins, Christmas trees)
  • Service Area:
    • Most Chicago neighborhoods from North Lakeview to Logan Square/Hermosa. West to Garfield Park, East to the lake, and South to Hyde Park/Woodlawn.
    • Beverly and Mt. Greenwood
  • Residential Pricing:
    • Monthly: $20 (When I signed up, it was $15 a month and I still get charged that rate!)
    • Bi-Monthly: $30
    • Weekly: $40
  • Extra Benefits:
    • Finished compost
  • Restaurants that Compost:
  • Farmers Market Compost Collection:

The Urban Canopy

I have had experience with Urban Canopy composting at some events for a non-profit board I used to serve on. They also have a CSA, which is awesome!

  • Services:
    • Residential
    • Commercial
    • Events
  • Service Area:
  • Residential Pricing:
    • Monthly: $15
    • Bi-Weekly: $25
    • Weekly: $35
  • Extra Benefits: 
    • Finished compost
    • $5 voucher to a local farmers market or a $5 voucher to one of the restaurants that also compost with Urban Canopy
  • Where Does it Go?
    • Their farm in Englewood and local compost-processing facility
  • Farmers Markets

WasteNot Compost

Chicago’s first and only zero-emission compost collection service.

  • Services
    • Residential
    • Multi-Unit
    • Commercial
  • Service Area
  • Residential Pricing
    • Weekly: $10 per service ($40)
    • Bi-Weekly: $12 per service ($24)

Collective Resource

  • Services
    • Events
  • Service Area
  • Residential Pricing
    • Weekly: $10.50 per week ($42)
    • Bi-weekly: $15.50 per week ($31)
    • Monthly: $20.50
  • Restaurants that Compost:
  • See a full list of organizations that compost with Collective Resource here

Block Bins

  • Services:
    • Neighborhood composting (set up a bit differently than the others, Block Bins allows you to compost with your neighbors using a large 35-gallon, locked bin placed in the alley)
  • Service Area:
  • Residential Pricing:
    • $10/month: 5 gallons of waste per month (~1-2 person household)
    • $15/month: 10-15 gallons per month (~3-4 person household)
    • $20/month: 15-20 gallons per month (~5-6 person household)
  • Where Does it Go?
    • An industrial composting facility in Harborview

So there you have it! Do you want to start composting?

Food Aversions and Food Waste

During the first trimester of pregnancy, your body does a lot of weird things and your stomach and taste buds start to betray you.

For a handful of weeks, I barely wanted to eat anything. Everything was just so unappealing.

With my ever-changing palette, I had to come to terms with something that I do my very best to avoid in my non-pregnant life: wasting food.

Many times I would try to eat some of the lovely home-cooked meals my husband made for me and many times I would poke at it with my fork and end up eating a bowl of Cheerios instead.

I would often be over-zealous and prepare more food than my stomach could manage, leaving a lot left behind. Our compost service benefited the most in the first couple of months.

While I felt pretty guilty that I couldn’t always eat what was put in front of me, I had to learn to accept that this was going to happen. With my hormones all over the map, I couldn’t really control what I wanted to eat one day and not the next.

Luckily, I am now in the second trimester and my appetite has vastly improved. I can eat vegetables again! A miracle!

A Year of Collecting Food Scraps in A Bucket

It has been my first full year of composting, or really, my first full year of saving food scraps and keeping them in a bucket on my fire escape until it gets picked up to be made into compost.

compost1

Each month before I set my bucket out on the front step, I used my hanging scale to weigh it, diligently tracking my results in a spreadsheet.

compost-bucket4

And now, here we are, twelve months later, and we have successfully diverted a total of 215 pounds (plus some here or there) from the landfill!

compost bucket7

It is pretty impressive and I am very proud of myself for this accomplishment!

Here’s the month by month breakdown of our food waste poundage.

  • January 15.5 lbs
  • February 17.22 lbs
  • March 12 lbs
  • April 18.71 lbs
  • May 8.8 lbs
  • June 20.44 lbs
  • July 22.84 lbs
  • August 25.4 lbs
  • September 19.74 lbs
  • October 21.61 lbs
  • November 18.5 lbs
  • December 14.58 lbs

That’s 287 pounds of organic matter going back into our soil and helping plants thrive. Wahoo!

Lots of Food Scraps- Good or Bad?

It’s Compost Awareness Week!

 

compost bucket7

Even though I have been collecting my food scraps for compost collection for over a year now, I only started weighing our compost bucket last August.

I keep a little spreadsheet with the totals from each month.

  • August 11.22 lb
  • September 5.88 lb
  • October 7.04 lb
  • November 15.74 lb (house plant and outdoor plant)
  • December 11.48 lb (Not including our Halloween pumpkin)
  • January 10.38 lb
  • February 15.5 lb (dead house plant, RIP)
  • March 17.22 lb (chicken carcass, cleaned out the fridge)
  • April 12 lb
  • May 18.74 lb
  • TOTAL TO DATE = 125.2 POUNDS

While the numbers have fluctuated and have been going up, I have been bothered about whether or not that is a good thing.

Having a heavy compost bucket means we have a lot of food scraps and that can mean one of two things:

1.  We are finally figuring out what can be composted and just collecting more of it

OR

2. We are just wasting a lot of food 

So which one is it? What do you think?