Solving many of the environmental problems facing our planet requires us to reduce consumption of certain products and services, as well as rethink and reinvent how we approach everyday tasks and services.
We have some thoughts and ideas related to rethinking and reducing consumption, along with some local options. Your thoughts are just as important. To contribute a short piece to this blog, contact us at [email protected]
COMPOSTING: Free and Fee-Based Local Options
REDUCING Junk Snail-Mail
YOUR BODY: Green Approaches to Disposing of Your Remains
Composting: Free and Fee-Based Options
Why should you compost? If you already know why, scroll down to learn about local composting options.
If you’re not sure what the fuss is all about, consider the stories of two heads of lettuce. Both go bad in Mr. Smith’s fridge. But then their stories diverge.
One head of lettuce is tossed in regular trash and eventually buried in a landfill. As the lettuce slowly breaks down, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to the warming of the planet.
The other head of lettuce is tossed in a compost pile with grass clippings, dry leaves, fruit and vegetable scraps, and other plant life. The lettuce breaks down quickly and helps to create compost, an all-natural fertilizer that can be spread around Mr. Smith’s tomato plants.
Clearly composting kitchen scraps, as well as yard waste and other natural materials, is better for the environment than tossing these items in the regular trash. Yet most food scraps end up in landfills. In 2018, only 2.6 million tons of food scraps were composted, compared to 35 million tons that went to landfills, according the Environmental Protection Agency
By committing to composting at home, residents in La Grange and nearby communities can help combat the climate crisis
. Composting can also save you money by reducing or eliminating the amount of fertilizer and pesticides you need to buy for your garden, potted plants, and lawn.
DIY vs. Commercial Composting
Composting can seem complicated and overwhelming to newbies. Like any change, it takes some getting used to. But once you get the hang of composting, it becomes second nature. One of the first steps to becoming a “composter” is determining how you want to compost:
- Pay for a commercial composting service
- Use a combination of a composting service and DIY
One benefit of DIY composting is the relatively low cost. You may have some upfront costs, like the cost of investing in a compost bin (which varies from around $40 to more than $100, depending on your tastes). But you won’t have to pay regular fees like you have with a commercial service. Another benefit of home composting is that you get to keep and use all the rich compost you make to feed your plants and lawn.
However, with DIY composting, you are often limited in the type of food scraps and other materials that you can compost.
Commercial compost services accept many items — including meat, fish, bones, rice, uneaten cookies and cake, greasy pizza boxes, cereal, and popcorn — that would either not break down well in a home compost pile or might attract unwanted rodents to your yard or home.
At home, you are mostly limited to composting fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, leaves, coffee grounds, plant stalks, twigs, and shredded paper and cardboard. However, some newfangled compost machines or systems, like Lomi
, allow you to compost bones, meat, etc.
Local Commercial Composting Options
The Village of La Grange offers residents an option to compost a variety of food scraps
along with yard waste through the village’s contract with Flood Bros. The service is only provided during the months when yard waste is collected (Apr. 1 through Dec 15). The cost depends on the size of the cart selected ($14.72 mo./95-gallon; $12.69 mo./65 gallon as of Feb. 2023). If you live in an apartment building or other multi-resident home in LaGrange, you may not have this option. Check with your landlord or property manager. Western Springs
also offers residents an option to compost food scraps with yard waste. The Urban Canopy
is another commercial composting option for residents of La Grange and nearby communities. You receive a 5-gallon bucket to collect a variety of food and kitchen scraps
— ranging from uneaten chicken, yogurt, pizza boxes, and paper towels used for food clean up. Urban Canopy picks up the bucket (typically on Tuesdays in this area). Fees range from $20 to $40 a month, depending on the number of pickups per month. For every 10 pickups, customers can request some free compost or get a $5 voucher to various vendors or restaurants. The Urban Canopy also offers communal composting
for multi-resident buildings, office buildings, restaurants, etc.
If you live in DuPage County, you may be able to get commercial composting services through Our Sustainable Journey
Resources for DIY Composting
There are two primary types of DIY home composting: Backyard composting and worm composting. The EPA provides a good overview
of both these approaches.
In recent years, indoor composting machines and systems have become available that can turn food scraps into compost or fertilizer within hours from the comfort of your kitchen. Some of these composting systems are small enough to sit on a counter, making them helpful to people who live in small homes or apartments/condos. Here’s one review
of four available compost machines, along with costs.
Local Resources to Get Free Compost
If you want some compost for your garden or potted plants, check out the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s (MWRD’s) compost service
. You can go to the Stickney plant of the MWRD (off Pershing Rd) with a shovel and big bucket. If you want 10 cubic yards or more for your golf course or Morton Arboretum, call ahead.
Reducing Junk Snail-Mail
Yes, the paper junk mail stuffing your mailbox can be recycled. But you could save trees and reduce greenhouse emissions by stopping unwanted catalogs and promotional mail from ever getting to you in the first place. Every year, more than 100 million trees are chopped down to provide junk mail to U.S. households, according to one article.
Here are three services that can help you reduce the amount of junk mail you receive:
You can control what catalogs you receive in your mailbox by signing up with Catalog Choice
. The service manages all communication channels with retailers for you.
DMA Choice DMA Choice
is a mail preference service offered by the ANA Consumer Preference Service. DMA Choice also has an email preference service to help reduce unsolicited emails.
is the official consumer credit reporting industry website. You can opt-in or opt-out of promotional mail asking you to sign up for various credit cards.
Your Body: Eco-Friendly Approaches to Disposing of Your Remains
Our environmental footprint does not end when we die. There’s still our body that needs to be disposed of in some way.
Traditional casket burials and cremation carry an environmental cost. For instance, greenhouse gas emissions from cremating a body are similar to driving 500 miles in a gas-fueled car, according to a Washington Post article
Plan ahead to ensure your body is disposed of in the way you prefer, Check with your local funeral home, doctor, clergy, or estate planner. Let your family know about your plans.
Your eyes, kidneys, liver, and other organs and tissues can be used by others once you die. “One donor can save 8 lives and enhance over 75 more,” if you arrange to become an organ donor when you are still alive, according to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. Become an organ donor
Alternatively, you can donate your entire body to science
for medical research and training.
Consider Green Options
A number of eco-friendly approaches
are now available for your bodily remains. Examples include composting
and mushroom shrouds
. Another is alkaline hydrolysis
, which is a chemical process that reduces a human body to components of liquid and bone. Alkaline hydrolysis is legal in Illinois.
Some local funeral homes, such as Hitzeman Funeral Home and Cremation Services
, Brookfield, mention natural or green burials on their website.