Compost and Recycling Program
In May of 2012 Green City Market began a composting and recycling initiative. So far, we have diverted over 5,000 lbs of food waste from landfills!
From tamale husks and paper napkins to apple cores and un-sellable produce, Green City Market customers and vendors create a lot of organic waste on market days. When all that material goes to a landfill it rots and gives off methane, a greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. In fact, landfills are responsible for 20% of the US’s methane emissions, making them a large contributor greenhouse gases worldwide. Since food waste makes up about 30% of the material dumped into landfills, alternative waste disposal methods can have an enormous global impact. When food waste and other organic material are composted, they are broken down by microbes through aerobic (oxygen-based) decomposition. Microbes (bacteria and fungi) consume the food waste and turn it into rich soil before it has a chance to putrefy, thereby preventing methane formation. This living, well-balanced soil can be used to grow more food, clean up contaminated soil and prevent erosion. Producing great soil while reducing greenhouse gas emission? Sounds like a win-win!
How Do We Compost?
Green City Market sets up a “Compost Center” at every market. You will find us in the center of the market under a green tent marked “Compost Center.” We have removed all other waste bins from the market so we can be vigilant about sorting compost-able materials from recycling and trash.
All paper, food waste and wood products can be composted. So can the little plastic cups from Tiny Greens’ wheat grass shots. Anything else that looks like plastic (even if it says “biodegradable”) must go in recycling or landfill. All hard plastic, aluminum and glass can be recycled. All Styrofoam, soft plastic, animal waste and “biodegradable” flatware must go in landfill.
The Resource Center, a Chicago non-profit, picks up our compost and turns it into soil at a facility on the city’s south side.
How Can You Compost?
Green City Market encourages all Chicagoans to compost their food scraps! Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to collect home compost at the market. We hope to develop such a program in the future. For now, check out these resources for home compost pick-up, drop-off and creating finished compost on your own!