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Composting reduces curbside waste

While the proper maintenance of a compost pile can be time consuming, it also contributes to reducing unnecessary waste, and creates a wonderful natural fertilizer for your garden and landscaping. There are different varieties of indoor compost containers, and many types are available at local stores. Some households keep a small lidded container in the kitchen to collect food scraps, and then add them to the compost pile in the backyard. composting_IL_extension_man_watering_compost

There are several ways to construct outdoor compost piles. Piles should be placed on level ground in a sheltered, well-drained area, and out of constant direct sunlight. However, they should not be placed in constantly shaded areas, such as under trees. Be considerate of your neighbors, and choose a spot out of direct view.

The Village of Hoffman Estates permits outside compost piles and containers with the following requirements:
1. They can only be located in side or backyards
2. They cannot be constructed or placed in such a way so as to allow materials to be windblown
3. They cannot emit odors that are detectable at any point along lot lines, and they cannot cause a public nuisance or hazard beyond lot lines
4. A large amount of grass clippings or branches in a pile is not considered compost or mulch

If you do choose to compost your food scraps with your yard waste, here are some starter tips. Great compost includes:
All your vegetable and fruit waste
• Breads and grains; anything made of flour
• Coffee grounds, tea bags and filters
• Outdated boxed pantry foods
• Egg shells
• Yard waste (leaves, flower and plant parts, grass)

Once materials are added to a compost pile, add a thin layer of compost or soil over the top to encourage material breakdown. Use a limited amount of grass clippings and wood larger than 1/4 inch in diameter to avoid stalling material breakdown.
To avoid attracting pests, odors, and a too-slow breakdown of materials, do not compost:
Meat, fish or dairy products
• Grease or oils of any kind
• Manure or animal waste
• Yard waste treated with pesticides
• Severely diseased plants

Some resources that will get you started include:

Composting basics - Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) webpage
Composting at Home - brief video from SWANCC
Composting for the Homeowner - University of Illinois Extension webpage