What's so important about compost?

Food waste is a pressing environmental concern in Illinois. In Cook County — and in many counties around the state — it accounts for up to 37% of landfill material. But food waste is not just filling up municipal dump sites. It is a major source of methane, a greenhouse gas considerably more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide (CO2). 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. Composting could do for reducing food waste what recycling has done in the last 50 years for reducing plastic, paper, and aluminum waste. But only if we all understand the impact of food waste in landfills and have opportunities to compost our organic waste. 

You can help change our compost culture. 

By learning more about composting, seeking opportunities to recycle your food scraps into compost, and telling others about what you learned you will play an important role in increasing the demand for and the rate of composting adoption to reach a “tipping point” where composting is as common as recycling. Together we can build a culture of composting to create a healthy environment, promote local circular economies, support our urban farms and gardens, and meet the EPA’s goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030.

Our collective efforts will

lead to a future in which everyone views compost as a valuable resource, separates their compostable waste, and has access to a composting service. In this future, greenhouse gas emissions have decreased, global warming has slowed, and more urban farmers are using high-quality, locally produced compost to grow healthy food for our residents. 

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

Learn more about our initiative. 

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

View and download our tip sheet How to Get Started with Indoor Worm Composting.