Welcome, HSC Worms!

September 14, 2009

by Tara Kennon, HSC communications manager

We were thrilled to see the news that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently signed SB99 into law, making it legal to compost commercially in Illinois and then transport the resulting mega-nutrient-rich compost to other states nationwide. Old laws restricting commercial composting — and especially the transport of compost across state lines — made it difficult for schools and many other institutions in Illinois to compost on any large scale.

HSC applauds Gov. Quinn and the legislators who made this sensible law a reality. As Kay McKeen, founder and executive director of SCARCE (School & Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education) says, “There are bills out there that are good for everyone and this is one of them.” We look forward to seeing a resulting increase in composting around the state!

Here at HSC, we have been taking steps into the world of composting as well. HSC works with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to bring together the district's Environmental Action Plan Taskforce, a group of school and community leaders who make recommendations for putting the plan in action. One facet of this project involves exploring the feasibility of composting in schools. We've found that composting is one activity that brings so many benefits to a school community — benefits for the environment, true hands-on experiences with biological sciences for students, and invaluable lessons in environmental stewardship for everyone involved.

To better understand what composting involves for a school, we decided to give it a try in our office. As our founding executive director Rochelle Davis explained, if everyone in our office can understand the challenges of composting first-hand, we'll be better able to help schools (with many more people) put programs into action.

With the help and encouragement of Kate Weinans, UIUC Extension Youth Program Organizer at the University of Illinois Extension program, we kicked off our very own Healthy Schools vermi-composting effort — that is, the kind of composting that involves worms. Take a look at this video of the day we welcomed our squirmy, wriggly new suite mates to the office: