Composting made easy

2023 Spring Finished Compost Gift-Back

2023 Spring Finished Compost Gift-Back

We’re offering free finished compost to the customers who helped make it!

Collective Resource Compost customers can claim up to 10 gallons of finished compost as our gift to you. You can also purchase additional compost for $5/5 gallons (cash or check only).

We’re able to do this, with the help of The Talking Farm, who is graciously hosting our gift-back event at their Howard Street Farm. The finished compost has been processed by Green Soils Management, an EPA-permitted processor located in East Dundee. This compost, packed with microorganisms and fungi, is ready for any type of crop, your victory garden, or soil rehabilitation project! Mix it with 30–50% of another soil blend or apply 1–2 inches on top of the existing soil.

Collective Resource Compost customers only:

Sunday, April 23rd, 1:00–4:00 pm
Wednesday, April 26th, 5:00–7:00 pm 
Sunday, April 30th, 1:00–4:00 pm

In celebration of International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW)
Open to the public and our customers:

Wednesday, May 3rd, 5:00–7:00 pm 
Sunday, May 7th, 1:00–4:00 pm
Wednesday, May 10th, 5:00–7:00 pm

Please register HERE

The Talking Farm, 3669 Howard St, Skokie

(Use the parking lot at the Tot Learning Center.)
Bring your own tarp, storage tubs, buckets, or paper grocery bags. 

Container options for finished compost

Wheelbarrows will be available for moving the compost from the pile to your vehicle.

Additional compost is $5/5 gallons (cash or check only).

In the event of a rain cancellation, a Facebook post will be made by 11:00 am on the day of the event.

Call with questions at 847-733-7665 or email

Environmental Justice Discussion Group 2021

Environmental Justice Discussion Group 2021

Education has always been a part of our business. This was surprising to us at first, but it became clear that if we were going to persuade anyone to use our service, we needed to educate them on why our planet needs us to compost. These days we do a lot of educating through our monthly blog on the topics of composting, zero waste and other areas of sustainability.

After the George Floyd uprisings, many book groups popped up focused on reading and discussing books on racism/anti-racism and reading books by authors of color, but we were not aware of one that focused on environmental justice/racism.

So, we decided to start our own discussion group. We’ll use both books and films as a springboard for discussion. We’ve already made our selections for the entire year. Collective Resource Compost will be the host. Librarian and Racial Equity Advocate Lesley Williams will be our facilitator. We’ll view the films and read the books on our own time. We’ll meet on zoom on the second Thursday evening of the months of February through November 2021 from 7:00-8:30 pm central standard time. (Those dates are Feb. 11, Mar. 11, Apr. 8, May 13, June 10, July 8, Aug. 12, Sept. 9, Oct. 14, Nov. 11. )

Our selection for the first discussion on February 11 is the documentary Cooked: Survival by Zipcode. It tells the story of the tragic 1995 Chicago heat wave, the most traumatic in U.S. history, in which 739 citizens died over the course of just a single week, most of them poor, elderly, and African American.

Our selection for the meetings on March 11 and April 8 is the nonfiction book A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind. It is described as a “powerful and indispensable book” on the devastating consequences of environmental racism—and what we can do to remedy its toxic effects on marginalized communities.

Everyone is welcome but space is limited. To register for the first discussion on February 11 and receive detailed information on ways to obtain all of this year’s selections, email Mary Beth Schaye at 

Documentaries Can Change Your Life, If You Let Them

Documentaries Can Change Your Life, If You Let Them

I’ve got documentaries on the brain. Not surprisingly, given that our local-to-Chicagoland One Earth Film Festival just ended. But do not despair if you missed it because they have an Earth Day Mini Film Fest happening from April 19–23. There are opportunities to view films virtually or in-person. We’re so lucky to have this organization in our community.

Just in case you’ve never heard of the festival, here is a bit more about them: One Earth Film Festival is the Midwest’s premier environmental film festival, creating opportunities for understanding climate change, sustainability and the power of people. It showcases top-issue, thought-provoking environmental films, leads audiences in interactive post-film discussions focused on solutions, and offers concrete actions people can take. One Earth Film Festival is a production of One Earth Collective.

Collective Resource Compost has participated at many in-person screenings as what they call an action partner—a local organization or business working on the issues presented in the film.

This year, we were an action partner in Park Ridge at a screening of Going Circular, a documentary about the circular economy. I was talking to a woman who reminded me that we had met at a previous One Earth Film Fest screening in Park Ridge of UseLess: documentary about food and fashion waste. She said it changed her life.

A different documentary changed my life: Forks Over Knives. It made me give up eating meat once and for all. Good for me, good for the planet.

Wasted! The Story of Food Waste

Recently, I was invited to moderate a discussion following a screening at Arlington Heights Memorial Library for the documentary Wasted! the story of food waste. It’s part of their Wider Lens series. I’ve seen it several times, but each time I see it, something new pops out for me and captures my imagination. This time it was the segment about a company in Japan converting food waste into food for pigs. It’s not too much of a spoiler to tell you that it’s always delighted me that the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy is featured in it. I encourage you to invite friends and family over, watch it together and discuss it afterwards. Maybe to celebrate Earth Day? One way you can stream it is through Amazon Prime.

Here are the questions I’m planning to ask that can be applied to most documentaries.

How did this documentary make you feel? You could offer the following possibilities but then ask if there were any others. Inspired, Depressed, Confused, Hopeful, Guilty? Any others?

What segments stood out to you? Why? What is your reaction to them?

There was a lot of data presented in this film. Any statistics that stood out to you?

Did anything surprise you in the film?

Call to Action. Is there something you’re going to consider doing differently because of watching this film?

Access to Documentaries

We’re at a very good time in history for watching documentaries. There are so many ways to access them. Green Planet Films, a non-profit distributor of nature, environment and human ecology films has a relationship with Amazon called Green Planet Stream. Their mission is to disseminate, exhibit and discuss educational documentary motion pictures with academic institutions, businesses and the public. Through your library card you may have access to Hoopla for free movie screening. There are also a lot of documentaries on the Curiosity Stream. Just this week I learned about this streaming service: WaterBear. How and where have you viewed documentaries?

Documentaries about Soil and Waste

I went down a rabbit hole trying to figure out when I had first seen Wasted! I thought maybe it was at a One Earth Film Fest. I gave up that search but wanted to direct you to the archive they have of all the films they’ve shown in previous years. Here are just a few you might be interested in: Dirt! The Movie, For the Price of a Cup of Coffee, Let’s Talk About Soil, The Soil Solution, and Trashed.

We’d be very interested to hear if a documentary has changed your life.

Collaboration and Celebration: IFSCC and ICAW

Collaboration and Celebration: IFSCC and ICAW

We’ve been involved with a coalition that used to be called Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC) and just recently added Composting to its name to become Illinois Food Scrap & Composting Coalition (IFSCC). It was always about composting, and now the name reflects it.

Back in 2012, our founder Erlene Howard was invited to participate by composting and educating at an event called GreenTown Highland Park hosted by Oak Park–based Seven Generations Ahead. Soon thereafter IFSC was formed by attendees of that conference who have been meeting nearly monthly since.

It’s not unusual for professionals to be active in regional or national groups. It’s just that particularly back in 2012, there weren’t any professional groups for small container-swap food scrap hauling companies. IFSCC has really helped us to have a community centered around commercial composting.

It’s difficult to put into words how much it means to us to have these connections, some over a decade long. The connections really help us to support sustainability efforts and help others to make connections and solve problems.

There are monthly meetings on Zoom that feature mostly local sustainability professionals. Most of the work happens in committees: Communications, Compost Market Development, Education, Policy and We Compost Recognition. You don’t have to be a member to participate, but becoming a member helps support the work.

A couple years ago our founder Erlene Howard joined the Board and now she is the treasurer. I’m co-chair of the We Compost Recognition Committee that began giving recognition to mostly restaurants but expanded to other types of businesses and organizations.

For more info on IFSCC, visit their website at

International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) May 7–13, 2023

I bet the people whose families have been composting in their yards for generations wonder why an International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) is even necessary. This is not a Hallmark holiday but I do think it’d be fantastic if someone designed some greeting cards for it. It’s a CREF holiday: Compost Research & Education Foundation. CREF’s vision is to advance composting technologies, practices, and beneficial uses that support resource conservation and economic and environmental sustainability. The goal of ICAW is to work together to raise public awareness on why we all should be composting and using compost.

ICAW was started in Canada in 1995 by the Compost Council of Canada. It is held the first full week in May.

Since 2008, CREF has included a poster contest based on the year’s theme. This year’s theme is For Healthier Soil, Healthier Food…Compost. This year’s winner is Jun Qi, an illustrator and storyteller from Singapore. (I particularly like this year’s poster because anyone who has seen me tabling knows that I spell out Zero Waste and Compost with wood letters on my table. For whatever reason, some letters have gone missing and in the moment I’ve replaced them with various plastic or wood foods that are also part of my tabling kit. Sometimes the C is a croissant or the O is a tomato slice.)

There is also a video contest for children in 4th–8th grade (ages 10-13). An 11-year-old girl from Argentina, Magna Iacomella Paz, won the contest this year with her video. Spoiler alert: I love how the orange falls into the compost bin, biodegrades and becomes compost. (Scroll down to watch the winning video.)

Since 2020, IFSCC has participated in and supported various ICAW compost celebrations. This one is at the sweet intersection of reading and composting: a call to action to libraries and a list of 170 books about composting on Goodreads! Please share it with your local library and school librarians. (And if you’re not familiar, Goodreads is a book-focused website that helps you keep track of what you’re reading and lets you write book reviews.)

Last year, Collective Resource Compost’s Spring Finished Compost Gift-Back included days that were open to the public, to give everyone the opportunity to purchase finished compost that was made in Illinois. We’ll be doing it again on Wednesday, May 3, 5:00–7:00 pm, Sunday, May 7, 1:00-4:00 pm and Wednesday, May 10, 5:00–7:00 pm. Customer-only days will precede those dates. Be on the lookout for more info on that event as we get closer.

If you decide you’d like to celebrate compost and ICAW in any way, big or small, you can register your event and learn more on CREF’s website. If you are posting to social media, be sure to use IFSCC’s hashtag #ILcomposts 

The banner photo is from last year’s gift-back during International Compost Awareness Week. L-R: Amy Bartucci, IFSCC’s Administrative Coordinator, Mary Beth Schaye and Erlene Howard, Collective Resource Compost.

New, Improved Options for Composting in Skokie

New, Improved Options for Composting in Skokie

Discount for First Year of Door-to-Door Service

Skokie residents, who are new Collective Resource Compost customers, can enjoy a 15% discount for paying annually for the first year of our container-swap composting service.

5-gallon Bucket

  • Biweekly (every other week) swapout of a 5-gallon Bucket with lid is just $192.95 for the first year. Typically accommodates 2-3 users.
  • Weekly swapout of a 5-gallon Bucket with lid is $257.12 for the first year. Typically accommodates 4 users.

32-gallon Neighbor Tote

  • Biweekly (every other week) swapout of a 32-gallon bagged Neighbor Tote is $471.75 for the first year. Typically accommodates 12 users.
  • Weekly swapout of a 32-gallon bagged Neighbor Tote is $943.50 for the first year. Typically accommodates 24 users.

Collective Resource Compost has been servicing Skokie residents since 2012, most of whom are still using our service. Join your neighbors in diverting your food scraps, mitigating climate change and helping Skokie meet its sustainability goals.

Five New Free Dropoff Sites

In recognition that some residents would prefer to drop off their food scraps, the Village of Skokie has created five free dropoff sites:

  • Public Works – 9050 Gross Point Road near main entrance
  • Devonshire Park – Grove Street parking lot near basketball courts
  • Village Hall – 5127 Oakton Street near main entrance
  • Oakton Park – south parking lot off Kenton Avenue near tennis courts
  • Fire Station 16 – 7424 Niles Center Road, parking lot off Fargo Avenue

The Village has a handy map of the dropoff sites here on their composting page.

Composting in Your Backyard

Some people like to compost in their backyards to make compost to feed their gardens. This can be combined with our door-to-door service or dropoff sites so that you can divert all of your compostable waste, to give our planet the greatest benefit. Some items that can be commercially composted but not backyard composted are bones, dairy products and soiled pizza boxes. (Click here for a full list.) The Village continues to provide a $25 rebate for households that purchase a Village-approved backyard compost bin. This link takes you to the Village’s website where you can both learn what is Village-approved and upload your receipt for reimbursement.

10,000 Tons of Resources Recovered!

10,000 Tons of Resources Recovered!

We’re delighted to announce that we have reached another diversion milestone: 10,000 tons! That’s a whole lot of carrot tops, pizza boxes, eggshells, chicken bones, Chinet plates, etcetera, etcetera.

 We’ve gone from 4 digits to 5 and added a comma!

In the first six months that founder/owner Erlene Howard was hauling buckets of food scraps in her Toyota Camry, she averaged about 77 pounds a week. Our crew is routinely averaging 36+ tons a week! That’s over 72,000 pounds.

We think it’s kind of cool that we hit this milestone on January 16th, 2023 since we started hauling way back in 2010 on June 16th, 2010. We also broke our record with this 1000 tons. It only took us a little over 6 months to get there. We have no doubt that the route density we have because of our municipal franchise agreements is helping to fuel this growth.

Because tons are kind of hard to visualize, we used this nifty calculator to try to help you understand how very much that is. 10,000 tons are about 2/5ths as heavy as the Statue of Liberty, 1,500 times as heavy as an elephant and 6.5 million times as heavy as a human brain.

And because carbon calculators are all the rage, we used ReFED’s impact calculator to calculate the impact of 10,000 tons diverted: 44,384.59 tons of C02eq. That’s equivalent to the removal of 9,607 passenger vehicles driven for one year.

We are so grateful to our entire composting community, our staff and particularly our hardworking crew who lifted all of this. Keep spreading the word and separating the scraps!