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Celebrating international composting week may not have been tops on your to-do list this week, but with our landfill close to reaching its useful life it is becoming more important than ever.

With the goal of raising awareness of composting, Run by the Composting Council Research and Education Foundation (CCREF), the nonprofit supports initiatives that enhance the stature and practices of the composting industry. The theme for this year is Cool the Climate – Compost!

“The focus of ICAW is to educate the general public about the important benefits of recycling our organic waste into compost,” said Teri Sorg-McManamon, ICAW Committee Chair. “The meaning behind this year’s theme is that there are many ways to help reduce our carbon footprint and reduce climate change — adding compost to the soil is one tool in reducing climate change.”

With no set events in the area for International compost awareness week, my goal in writing this column is to bring awareness to composting and other ways residents can help the earth.

Here’s why composting matters

In Racine, the Kestrel Hawk landfill is running out of room. As outlined in its latest report, if the landfill continues to accept garbage at its current rate, it will have to close in six years, according to a story by the Journal Times in 2018. With this issue knocking at our backdoor, it is extremely important that organizations and people make drastic changes. Individuals can make a large difference by reducing, reusing and recycling.

What you can do

There are three main things to consider: Reduce, reuse and recycle as much as you can so that what you use doesn’t end up in the landfill.

  • Reduce your food waste by using your garbage disposal or try home composting to make or improve soil for your garden.
  • Reduce your waste by bringing your own take-home container for leftovers at restaurants and being an advocate for biodegradable take-home containers.
  • Reuse by donating old clothes, furniture or other items you no longer need instead of throwing them out.
  • Reuse by opting to bring reusable bags to the grocery store.
  • Reusing and saving your gift bags and glass containers.
  • Recycle by putting old papers in a burn pile for your next fire
    • crushing your aluminum cans and other metals to trade for some cash back at Alter Trading Corporation, 3056 Hamilton Ave
    • rinsing out plastic food containers and putting them into the recycling bin.
  • For hazardous waste, stay aware of hazardous waste collection events near you, at

Zero Waste Activism in Racine

Our community’s waste habits are the biggest challenge the Zero Waste committee faces. In response to Kestrel Hawk’s report the City of Racine City Administrator, Jim Palenick, started the committee, which is now run by Greening Greater Racine. The Zero Waste Committee of Greater Racine is working on many projects to change the habits of restaurants, businesses, schools, and residents.

Here’s what they are doing:

  • Framing a resolution about Zero Waste to present to the City Council about the importance of reducing waste.
  • Finding alternative containers for food carry-outs.
  • Gathering data from area stores and restaurants regarding the use of plastic bags and food carry-out containers.
  • Working on a City of Racine “pay as you throw” policy to be included in the next budget year that will incentivize people to reduce waste and improve recycling habits.
  • Creating a City recycling app
  • Exploring the possibility of a Recycling Cooperative with area businesses
  • Working on food waste in school cafeterias through the Green Cafeteria Initiative of GREEN
  • And many more listed on their site.

​​The Zero Waste Committee of Greater Racine is a clearinghouse for what is happening around the issues of recycling and waste in greater Racine. They support current initiatives and provide networking opportunities for those working on them. The committee brainstorms to initiate new efforts and encourage community members to join them with their ideas and actions. The Zero Waste committee is facilitated by Greening Greater Racine and the Eco-WAVE Team of Visioning a Greater Racine.

If you would like to get involved, email them at

About the author

Knoff after sampling the Root River with UW-Parkside for a WI DNR Permit, September 20, 2018

A Racine native, Katie Knoff has a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Studies from UW-Parkside. There she focused her studies on environmental problems in the past, present, and future, specifically water and geographic mapping. She chose environmental studies because from a young age she loved the outdoors as it always gave me a sense of peace.

If you have any questions or story suggestions, email her at