Cook County Composting Initiative

Together we can create a healthy environment, promote local circular economies, and support our urban farms and gardens.

In Cook County, as much as 37% of landfill material is food waste, a major source of methane gas, a major contributor to climate change. By diverting organic waste materials from landfills and recycling it into compost we protect our environment by reducing the amount of greenhouse gas released into the air. These days most everyone knows to recycle aluminum, glass, and paper and looks for a place to properly dispose of their soda can or newspaper. It wasn’t always like this. Fifty years ago, opportunities to recycle were rare. Slowly our collective culture changed and today most communities have municipal recycling pick up services.

We can’t wait another 50 years to develop a culture of composting.

The Chicago region is already experiencing the effects of climate change. The average winter temperature has been increasing over the past 50 years, and lake levels have been rising. Every year that passes brings us closer to not meeting the EPA’s 2030 Goal on waste reduction.

We envision a future in which everyone understands compost is a valuable resource, separates their compostable waste, and can access and use a composting service. We also believe it is possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming.

Illinois Extension in Cook County is committed to educating residents on the how and why of composting so the future we imagine becomes reality.

Compost Ambassador training program offered Winter 2021-22

Our pilot class is taking place online the second Thursday of every month from 6:00-8:00 p.m. January-April with a culminating volunteer opportunity at a compost collection event in Spring 2022. You'll get an opportunity to make an immediate impact by removing organic waste from the municipal waste stream and share your new knowledge with the community.

Class will meet January 13, February 10, March 10, and April 14. The volunteer opportunity will be held Saturday April 16.

Cost $40. Registration is closed. 

If you'd like to be added to the waitlist for the 2022 Compost Ambassador training, please email Sarah Batka  or call 217-300-8636. 

Learn more about our initiative. 

View and download our Composting 101 tip sheet in English or Spanish