Countdown to Earth Day Tip #10: Put Your Food Scraps to Work!

Countdown to Earth Day Tip #10: Put Your Food Scraps to Work!

  • There’s no need to wait until Earth Day on April 22 to start celebrating our planet and becoming more engaged in taking care of its precious resources. This article is part of a series of tips on how to “go green” in Kane County — 15 in all, one for every business day before Earth Day. Use them to tap into your inner eco-mindfulness and let your green spirit shine brighter than ever!
  • This article was written by Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. You can reach her at 630-208-3841 or

Tip #10: Get Into Composting!

It is the season for composting, my friends!

There are many reasons that composting in your back yard is a great idea. It is certainly the most ecologically smart thing you can do with your food scraps and landscape waste. It benefits your yard, and it even saves money!

How Composting Reduces Waste

Not only is composting a good idea because it keeps food scraps out of our landfills but it is a great way to create a nutrient rich soil amendment for your flower or food gardens. And once applied to the soil, it helps retain water, so that you don’t need to water as much!

How Composting Saves Money

It saves money because by adding the finished compost to your garden you can reduce or eliminate the need to buy chemical fertilizers or compost. And if you otherwise pay for yard waste collection bags or stickers, composting will cut your costs. It also saves money on your water bill.

For more information on the benefits of compost use in your garden, see the County Recycling webpage here. And for more on Kane County specifically and state policy on food scrap composting, see here.

How to Compost

Any online search on how to compost will turn up a plethora of composting resources and instructions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a great guide on Composting at Home.

Here are the basics.

In order to make compost you will need several main ingredients. Compost is an organic living thing, so it needs basically the same things that we need for life: food, water, air and heat.

Food for the compost includes brown (carbon) and green (nitrogen) sources. Brown material includes dried leaves, coffee filters and grounds, ripped up paper egg cartons, straw, paper towels and tissues. Green material includes all fruit and vegetable scraps and grass clippings. Ya know, Food! Like banana peels, egg shells, peelings and trimmings. Fish is okay but other meats should not be composted in a backyard compost bin. Other things not to include are citrus and oils, as they change the pH balance and inhibit the breakdown of the material.

Water only really needs to be added in drier areas or drier times of year. You want the compost pile to be the as wet as a damp sponge.

Air is also important. You don’t want your compost to be packed down, so it is good to turn or stir it once a week at minimum. Use a pitchfork or compost turner for this; just stick the fork in from the four corners and lift it up through the center.

Heat comes pretty naturally as a part of the process, but it is helpful to have your compost pile or compost bin in a sunny location where it will get plenty of radiant heat from the sun. It is like a cooking process.

You can use a chicken wire hoop or old concrete blocks or just have a good old fashioned compost pile if you like but to keep it tidy you can use a compost bin.

How to Get Compost Bins at Low Cost

Soil Saver Compost Bins are backyard compost bins made available by Kane County at a discounted cost for residents, at University of Illinois Extension Office, 535 S. Randall Road, St. Charles, IL 60174. For more information, call 630-584-6166.

The cost is $65 by cash or check, payable to Kane County Treasurer​. These Soil Saver Bins retail for about $120, so it’s really a great deal.

Click here​ for more details and a picture of the bins.

More recycling information can be found at

Got questions? Contact Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland at 630-208-3841,

Read the Countdown to Earth Day Series!

Read the ‘Recycling Tips’ Series!