Where do your kitchen food scraps go?

Led by our Zero Waste team and our ongoing partnership with Zero Waste Chicago, Chicago Market Owners caught a film screening of the documentary Wasted! The Story of Food Waste this past fall where we learned that a head of lettuce can take 25 years to decompose in the landfill. How can that be?

It is not exposed to oxygen and microbes and worms to break it down. What’s worse, it produces methane gas while trapped among all the plastics and packaging of a landfill. 

That got us thinking about the alternative – diverting kitchen food scraps to composting. We asked Owners how they compost and got great responses. 

Some folks are composting in their backyards or keeping worms. Bonnie says, “We use a Joraform Jora JK270 double chamber composter. It is on a stand, can hold 70 pounds of compost and is easy to spin. Rat proof! Plus, you can start a second chamber when the first is full. We’ve used it for two years and love it.”

Nice, but what about services that haul kitchen scraps away and manage the composting process. Malcolm wrote, “We use Collective Resource. They swap out a home depot bucket weekly or bi-weekly. Simple and reliable. And from Karen we heard, “We’ve used Urban Canopy for a few years. You can choose weekly/biweekly/monthly pickups and after a certain number of buckets they drop off a free small bag of compost for my garden.” And other Owners mentioned using WasteNot, based in the Lincoln Square but serving a broad area too.

One of our Owners was curious if anyone knew how many Chicago restaurants are composting. We checked in with Mary Beth at Collective Resource, the service we have out at all our Pop-Up Markets to help us with compost and recyclables collecting, and asked her about this. She doesn’t know of anyone aggregating such a list across the city, but does know they are doing it and referred us to the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition website. Check out the We Compost page to see a list of restaurants that do compost and be sure to support them when you eat out! Three cheers to our Owner friends at Honey Butter Fried Chicken and Smack Dab for leading the way!

One more cool tip from Mary Beth was the news that Green Dirt, a suburban service, is turning local food scraps into compost you can buy for your garden. It will be available soon at Lurvey’s in Des Plaines and maybe one day in our parking lot during the gardening season!

Clearly there’s no excuse not to choose the sustainable way to deal with your kitchen food scraps. Check out one of these great resources and cut the methane gas you’ve been inadvertently creating. Chicago Market Owners all around you are doing it; you can too!

Additional reading:
Fighting Climate Change With Food Scraps: Why Composting is Easier Than Ever

Community Member Spotlight: Chicago Market

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