Composting for All
It's Our Future logo, a stylized green globe with the words "It's Our Future" overlaid in blackSeven Generations Ahead (SGA), an IFSC Platinum Partner, manages a youth environmental advocacy program, It’s Our Future (IOF). Students learn media and leadership skills to become effective environmental leaders who tackle climate issues and impact their futures. It’s Our Future joined the efforts of PlanItGreen last fall in hopes to transition community “Opt-In” programs to models that will increase composting rates in the Oak Park/River Forest neighborhood. Members of It’s Our Future are currently learning about the local food system and how we can each play a role in making it more resilient and sustainable for all. As we know, food scrap composting is a huge part of our better tomorrow.

We asked Emma Sage, a member of It’s Our Future, to tell us about her experiences taking local composting advocacy online.

PlanItGreen logo

Emma, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a student at Oak Park and River Forest High School and will be a senior in the fall of 2020. For a civics project last year, a partner and I had the lofty goal of implementing a composting system in the cafeterias at our school (which happened in February!). Throughout that process, I got more involved in helping the environment and met many amazing people in my school community and beyond who are passionate about the environment. I got involved in some organizations including IOF! I’m so happy I’m involved and I’m excited to make our community more environmentally friendly.

Photo of Emma SageWhy and when did you create an online version of composting advocacy in your community?
I created the in February so we could get more support for our composting initiative. I have signed many petitions for causes I support and they’re easily spread around the community so many people can show their support. With the onset of the pandemic, we continue to find that this is a good way to reach people safely.

How have you and IOF been getting the word out about the online initiative?
The students in IOF have been using their social media platforms to help community members know about the initiative. We have also included the link in SGA newsletters. We are also working to get QR codes at the Local Farmer’s Market to increase awareness and signatures.

Have you experienced positive feedback from the community? Any complaints?
All the feedback we have received thus far has been positive so we hope this momentum can continue and composting in the community can be more accessible for all.

What are the next steps with It’s Our Future’s advocacy efforts?
Members of IOF sent emails to village board members to alert them of the initiative and we will also be attending meetings to encourage our leaders to get the programs going. Jen Nelson, a founding member of IFSC, recently helped facilitate discussion during a successful call with our local trustees and commissioners to discuss next steps and ways we may be able to help contribute to the transition for more residential participation.

Do you currently compost at home and/or school?
Yes, I’ve been composting at home for years through the opt-in model made available by the Village of Oak Park. I am part of an initiative to start a composting program at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

Do you hope to get even more involved in composting advocacy? If so, how?
I am part of a project to get composting implemented at Oak Park and River Forest High School and we hope to give students the necessary information to start composting at home if they are not already involved in the program.

That’s great! Perhaps you can share the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition website resources with your peers. What do you think of the information that IFSC makes available to the public for Composting at Home?
I agree! The information about Composting at Home from IFSC will be very helpful to students and members of the community who want to get involved in composting.

After looking at the Composting for Schools tab on the IFSC website, do you have any suggestions or additions for the page? Maybe you’d be willing to write a summary for the Zero Waste Schools section when OPRF has launched the new composting system someday!
Yes, I would be more than happy to write about our high school compost program once it is up and running.

Would you like to help It’s Our Future reach 1,000 signatures of support? Click and sign Emma’s petition.