Composting made easy

Nature As Inspiration, Plus All This Other Cool Stuff We’ve Got Going On

Nature As Inspiration, Plus All This Other Cool Stuff We’ve Got Going On

I’m so jazzed about all of the things we have going on and I don’t think it’s the coffee talking.

Restaurant Raffle 2021

Inspired by the Village of Winnetka’s Take Out Challenge we created our own Restaurant Raffle to support the restaurants and other food-related businesses that have made sustainability a priority by continuing to use our composting service through the COVID crisis. We hope that you will peruse the list, give them your business and enter the raffle!

Environmental Justice Discussion Group

We’ve officially launched our Environmental Justice Discussion Group. We introduced the idea in our blogpost Addressing Environmental Racism in July, and mentioned it again in our blogpost Hope For The Future in January. Please let us know if you’d be interested in learning and growing together.

Drop-off Programs

We’ve also been busy creating drop-off programs at some of our retail composting sites. The first to launch was Village Farmstand in the 4th ward in Evanston. They are hosting one of our Neighbor Totes. You can reserve your spot online and while you’re there, add some of their farm-fresh produce to your cart. They were recently featured on ABC7’s program Hungry Hound.

We’re happy to be adding this option for those unable to utilize our container-swap options. We’ll let you know about the other drop-off locations as they begin their programs.


We’re watching a television series that is set in the NYC theater scene and the concept of muse keeps coming up. Of course I had to look up the word to see if I had the definition right: a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist. I think that anyone, artist or not, can have a muse, so I started thinking about who or what my muse was. It should not be surprising that my muse is our beautiful planet or nature.

1000 Hours Outside

At first glance, it might seem that this challenge, for lack of a better word, is just for kids. I beg to differ. When kids grow up, they become adults and I don’t think a lot of our needs change. As described on their website:

The entire purpose of 1000 Hours Outside is to attempt to match nature time with screen time. If kids can consume media through screens 1200 hours a year on average then the time is there and at least some of it can and should be shifted towards a more productive and healthy outcome!

I was first introduced to this concept through seeing one of their trackers, a term they use for the coloring book type pages you can download for free from their website to track your hours spent outside. There are several designs to choose from including some designed by 8-year-old Reed who loves being outside and loves art.

Bringing the Outdoors Inside

I’m sure that you’ve heard of the concept of bringing the outdoors inside. This article, 7 Ways to Bring the Outdoors Inside on the Childhood by Nature website, helped me to understand why it feels so good to do that and gives me more ideas of how to accomplish that. We recently moved around the furniture to take better advantage of the views outside and light coming in the window in two rooms and it has dramatically improved our sense of well-being and happiness. No purchases required!

I was really happy to find the website Childhood by Nature. I had looked at several articles that had interior design focuses before I got to this one. When I poked around a little further on the website, I found this headline: “Time to see Nature as part of your extended family.” I couldn’t agree more.

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 

Restaurant Raffle 2021: Win While Helping Local Businesses

Restaurant Raffle 2021: Win While Helping Local Businesses

Who’s ready for a post-holiday game that just happens to help our composting community? Winters are historically slower times for restaurants and cafes. This winter is likely to be even harder.

Win a restaurant gift card

We’re sponsoring a raffle for you to win a gift card from any of the food-related businesses listed below. You get to choose which one. First prize: $75 gift card, Second prize: $50 gift card, Third prize: $25 gift card.

Raffle rules

The raffle runs from January 13 through February 28, 2021. Show us receipts from any of the food-related businesses that are Collective Resource Compost customers, listed below. To enter the raffle, spend at least $100 total. You could spend it all in one place or several as long as it adds up to at least $100. (E-mail your receipts to by February 28, 2021. Winners will be contacted on March 1, 2021. Thanks to the Village of Winnetka for the idea.)

List of participating businesses

See map below.

Backlot Coffee – Evanston
Backlot Coffee – Chicago
Beans & Bagels – Chicago
Blind Faith Cafe – Evanston
Campagnola – Evanston
Chicago Bagel Authority – Chicago
Eat Purely – Chicago
Farmhouse Restaurant – Evanston
Feast & Imbibe – Evanston
Food for Thought Catering – Lincolnwood
Green Grocer – Chicago
Hewn Bakery – Evanston
Honestly Organic Cakes – Evanston
Hoosier Mama Pie Company – Evanston 
House 406 – Northbrook
J&L Catering – Chicago
Katherine Anne Confections – Chicago 
Meez Meals – Evanston
Molly’s Cupcakes West Loop – Chicago
necessary & sufficient coffee – Chicago
Soul & Smoke – Evanston
Spacca Napoli Pizzeria – Chicago
Spirit Elephant – Winnetka 
The Barn Steakhouse – Evanston 
The Bread & Buddha Kitchen – Glencoe
Village Farmstand – Evanston

Happy 2021, and Bon Appétit!

Hope for the Future

Hope for the Future

What do you hope for in 2021?

I’m hoping that the COVID-19 vaccine works, that it is distributed quickly and equitably, and that any environmental gains that we’ve experienced because of the pandemic endure. I’m also encouraged that we can pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) in Illinois and President-elect Biden’s version of the Green New Deal (The Biden Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice) in the United States.

When I was thinking about the renewed hope for real climate and environmental justice progress that comes with the change in administration, I remembered this inspiring video called A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Maybe you missed it when it came out in April 2019. (7-minute video)

It’s written by Naomi Klein, narrated by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and illustrated by Molly Crabapple. The film is a flat-out rejection of the idea that a dystopian future is a forgone conclusion. It makes me tear up every time I watch it.

After I dried my tears, I was delighted to find that Youtube rolled right into a new-to-me film called A Message From the Future II: The Years of Repair, which premiered on October 1, 2020. It incorporates how the current pandemic figures into the future.  (8-minute video)

Cli-Fi (Climate Fiction)

Are you familiar with the book and movie genre cli-fi? Though many works that predate the coining of the term fall into this category, the term itself is fairly new. The literary movement “Cli-Fi” (modeled after the term “sci-fi”) is any fictional work written about the effects of climate change and global warming. I found that definition in this article that also recommends many novels in that genre.

The author of that article also recommended this short story, “Spider the Artist” written by Nnedi Okorafor. It is free to read on this website. I found it to be very thought-provoking.

Cli-fi is so hot that the literary quarterly McSweeney’s most recent publication, conceived in collaboration with National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) focuses on climate change. 

Entitled 2040 A.D., the authors of all ten stories imagine what the world might look like if the dire warnings issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, in its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C, were to come true.

Environmental Justice Discussion Group

In June, when I was writing our blogpost Addressing Environmental Racism, I conceived of the idea of an environmental justice discussion group that uses books and movies to inspire conversation, learning, and growth. We’re getting closer to making this a reality! We have selected a facilitator and we’re working on identifying the books, movies, and meeting dates for the first six months. Meetings will be held on Zoom on the evenings of the second Thursday of every month, beginning in February. Please let us know if you’d like to participate.

As part of this discussion group, we’ll be highlighting the ways that participants can support environmental justice work locally, nationally and globally. If you want to get a jump on that, read about the environmental justice resolution passed in Evanston earlier this year with the leadership of Environmental Justice Evanston, a committee of Citizens’ Greener Evanston.

Based in Chicago, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) is a leader in this area and has a great list of environmental and climate justice coalitions it is part of listed on their website.

Soylent Green is People!

The movie Soylent Green recently came up in conversation. Most people are familiar with the line that Charlton Heston’s character says at the end: “Soylent green is people!” I like sci-fi, so it’s kind of weird that I had not already seen it. But, when I read that it was made in 1973, that made sense. I was a little too young at the time to watch that kind of movie. I didn’t realize until I watched it last month that it is about climate change. It’s set in 2022. Next year! I’m happy to report that even if we continue our same bad trajectory of climbing carbon emissions, things will not be quite as bad next year as predicted in the movie.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have work to do.

7000 Tons and Counting

7000 Tons and Counting

We’re happy to announce that we have reached another diversion milestone: 7000 tons! Can you believe it?

Power of composting

What’s amazing to us is that’s 7,000 tons lifted, shifted, and tipped by hand— no hydraulics. That’s a whole lot of muscle power from our crew. 14 million pounds of lifting and that doesn’t even include the weight of the containers, just the food scraps within1.

Because tons are kind of hard to visualize, we used this nifty calculator2 to try to help you understand how very much that is. It’s about 1/4th as heavy as the Statue of Liberty, and equivalent in weight to 60 blue whales, 560 school buses, or 1,400 elephants. Can you picture that?

Who do we thank first?

Our crew for all of the heavy lifting or our composting community for putting their money and effort where it counts? Don’t make us choose!

By diverting all of those food scraps from landfills, we’ve had the collective impact of reducing 11,978 tons of methane, and we’re not stopping there!

1 The first ton was hauled by Erlene with some help from her friend Marla.

2 If you have a minute, play around with this calculator. On the right is something called “Sort Order”. Changing the setting from “closest first” to “highest first” or “lowest first” yields different and delightful results.