Composting converts organic materials, including limited food scraps, fruits and vegetables, and yard waste trimmings, leaves, grass, and small tree branches, into a dark, earthy-smelling soil conditioner, thereby preserving valuable nutrient-rich organic resources. Composting can save money by replacing store-bought fertilizers and helps with soil retention to reduce water runoff. Composting can make a significant contribution to achieving waste reduction goals, especially if organic waste comprises a large proportion of your waste stream.
Tips for Composting at Home
- Per Village code, use a tightly covered waterproof container or a properly designed composting container or enclosure to begin placing your composting material.
- When adding composting materials, alternate between moist materials, cut grass, fruits, and veggies, and dry materials, hay, and paper.
- It's best to use one-third of nitrogen-based, greens, items and two-thirds of carbon-based, brown, items for your compost ratio.
- Add enough water for the material to be moist. Be careful to add too much water, as this can smother the pile and create a smelly and slimy substance. Too much water can also kill good bacteria and ruin your compost.
- The more green material you add to your compost bin, the less water you will need to add.
- Soak dry ingredients in water first prior to adding them to your compost bin. Doing so will help prevent your compost bin from drying out.
- Keep your compost covered to prevent rainwater from entering and to also help it retain heat.
- Turn your compost pile every few weeks with a shovel to allow oxygen to aerate the pile.
Greens / Nitrogen-Rich Materials
- Grass Clippings
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Bread and Grain
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Paper tea bags with no staple
- Loose leaves
- Hair, manure, and fur from chickens, rabbits, cows, or horses
Browns / Carbin-Rich Materials
- Twigs and small branches
- Shredded paper, cardboard, and sawdust
- Hay and straw
- Woods chips
- Dried-out flowers or plants
- Nut Shells
- Ashes (wood-burning fireplaces)
- Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
- Wool or cotton textiles
Materials Not Suitable for Composting
- Non-biodegradable materials
- Large wood material
- Meat, poultry, or fish products and bones
- Firestarter logs
- Dairy products
- Treated or painted wood
- Fats, grease, or oils
- Waxed or glossy paper
- Pet waste
- Synthetic fibers
- Soiled diapers
- Weeds or diseased/invasive plants
- Plastic, metal, glass, charcoal, or ash
- Black walnut tree leaves or twigs
- Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides
How to Get Your Compost Picked up at Home
If residents choose to work with a composting vendor, customer service and billing are separate from Village refuse collection services. Each vendor offers the ability to sign up via their website and make payments online. Each vendor has its own pricing structure and service levels, as well as porch/backdoor pick-up services. Vendors also provide their own 5-gallon buckets and lids to residents.
- Collective Resource Compost provides door-to-door residential composting service of food scraps and other compostable matter. They provide a 5-gallon bucket to your family and then pick up the food scraps weekly or biweekly and take them to a commercial compost site. They leave a clean bucket for you to continue your collection for the next pickup.
- WasteNot is Chicago’s first and only zero-emissions compost collection service. WasteNot provides members with the easiest and cleanest way to go green by making their collections with 100% electric vans. They offer weekly service, including a clean bucket swap and the option to receive “finished” compost on scheduled distribution days.