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Windy City Whole Foods Stores Expand Compost Program

Organics retail giant expands its existing program, and will now convert 80% of its food waste into landscaping fertilizer.

Expansion can be a good thing, especially when it means Whole Foods Market is expanding its composting program to include more Chicago area stores!

As Mattermore reported back in the summer, Whole Foods Market is serious about composting.  Now, stores in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, Deerfield, Naperville, Palatine, Northbrook and Evanston are joining the stores in Schaumburg and Sauganash, which began composting last February.

Since last winter, participating stores have recovered and repurposed more than 1,100 tons of food waste––that’s an increased landfill diversion of about 10%.

WFM has set up collection points for food scraps in its administrative and customer service areas, to be placed into a compost container at the rear of the store.  There is also collection of expired items from all store departments for the composting program.

All of the organic waste is then pick up by Waste Management and taken to a site in Romeoville, Illinois.  There, it’s mixed with other collected yard wastes.  Mother nature does her thing for about six months, and then, tadaaaa!  Compost has become organic fertilizer for use in landscaping.

“Prior to composting, everything went into the trash because the store couldn’t recycle it,” said Kaili Harding, marketing manager of Whole Foods in Schaumburg. “It was a learning process. Now we use only a small little bin for our landfill waste, and what used to be a large garbage compactor is now our compost compactor.”

So, maybe not all expansion is good.  You’ve gotta look out for an expanding waistline and expanding debt––and even an ever expanding universe sounds a little scary.  But expanding composting in Chicago to turn used food into fertilizer?  Go ahead and expand away––garbage never looked so good!

About Sebrina Zerkus Smith

Professional writer, foodie. Lupus survivor. Loves pugs, wine, days at the beach and good movies. Takes recycling seriously, but not much else. Sebrina Zerkus Smith is a Southern Gal that has been scratching the writer’s itch for nearly 30 years. Her career began in Washington, D.C., in 1987, fresh out of collage and full of ideals. While plying her trade by day on congressional reps and senators, at night she burned the candle writing features for local newspapers and national magazines. She quickly realized that her southern upbringing gave her a unique and humorous voice that resonated with her readers. Eventually, she moved to Los Angeles where she pursued her dream of becoming a novelist and screenwriter. She paid her bills by working as a freelance writer for major marketing projects from studios such as CBS, NBC and Disney. Realizing that the future of writing lay with the internet, she was bitten by the blogging bug back in the 90’s, back before it was even called “blogging.” Then it was still just writing and trying to make a living. Through those early blogging years, Sebrina found passion and purpose. Over the past 10 years she has written articles for clients such as LightCues.com, MatterMore.com, Greenopolis, MacAddict, Yahoo, CNN and more. Today, Sebrina writes about a variety of topics including the Southern Experience, sustainability, clean water, food, gardening, sleep and her obsession with pugs. She is a regular paid contributor to WildOats.com as well as other entities. She now lives in Houston with her husband Jeff and their pug Newton. She hopes one day to complete her opus, Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed.


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