By Renee Gough, Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition
We in the Midwest may be a little below the climate curve compared to cities like San Francisco, but you’ve got to start somewhere!
Yes, we definitely make better beef sandwiches. But if we think of San Francisco as our Eco-Exemplum Excellentiam, we can follow in the footsteps of giants. But just how did these giants shrink their carbon footprint? By uniting in a green revolution.
Composting and recycling for ALL restaurants is MANDATORY in the City by the Bay. San Francisco has composted 620,000 tons of scraps and food waste since 1996. Their recycling and composting efforts are part of an effort to divert 75% of waste by 2010 and eventually becoming a zero-waste community by 2020.
Zero waste? Think of all the food waste in the restaurants we visit in Elmhurst alone. It’s an incredible goal.
The East Coast has its fair share of Restaurant Eco Warriors, too. In New York City, a new burger concept restaurant called “4Food” has a machine that composts all food and packaging in the basement of the premises!
“It’s capable of composting up to 400 pounds of food waste and compostable packaging in a 24-hour period,” says Michael Shuman, cofounder and manager of 4food. “The amazing thing is, it runs on microorganisms, so it runs 24/7/365—we just feed it enzymes on a weekly basis.” (To read the full story, visit: http://www.qsrmagazine.com/reports/what-do-about-waste)
With the amount of recycling and food waste that restaurants and educational institutions generate each day, it would be fantastic if Elmhurst residents could be beacons of light right here in the Midwest.
The next time you are at a restaurant or school, ask if they are recycling or have considered composting. Yes, recycling seems like a no-brainer, especially in comparison with composting. But you’d be surprised how many establishments still do not recycle. Look around at the amount of food that is being thrown away. Start a conversation and who knows where it will lead?
Did you know that Elmhurst College, Elmhurst Jewel/Osco and Villa Park Walmart are all composting? They all have terrific stories to tell, and we hope to highlight their efforts in a future blog.
Now before we get all DeNiro and start saying, “You think you’re better than me?” Just remember this: We can look to the East, look to the West, steal their ideas and become the best!
Elmhurst’s Environmental Calendar
March 5: Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition membership meeting, 7 p.m., Elmhurst Public Library. All welcome.
March 20: Cool Cities hosts Healthy Home, Healthy Wallet, Healthy Planet: Making Your Home Energy Efficient, 7 p.m., Elmhurst Public Library
April 18: Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection, A.J. Jacobs, 7 p.m., Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel, Elmhurst College. www.elmhurst.edu/tix
April 20: Elmhurst College Recycling Extravaganza
April 28: Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, Michael Pollan, 7 p.m., Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel, $10. www.elmhurst.edu/tix