July 18, 2011 | General

Celebrating Compost Week

BioCycle July 2011, Vol. 52, No. 7, p. 33
Each year, events are held around the country – and the world – to celebrate International Compost Awareness Week.
Jeff Ziegenbein and Dan Noble

COMPOSTERS and compost associations around the world celebrate International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) the first week in May each year. The ICAW program is grassroots in nature and creates an opportunity to teach young and old about compost’s ability to conserve water, protect groundwater and build beautiful landscapes. Multimedia publicity and education events showcase composting and compost products. Communities and government agencies, as well as members of the composting industry, utilize the week to promote their specific compost message and programs.
The US Composting Council (USCC) provides support materials to aid in the annual celebration. Each year, the ICAW committee of the USCC selects a theme and publicizes a poster contest to create artwork promoting the theme. This year’s theme was: Compost!…Reconnecting With Nature. A record number of poster submissions were received, including the winning entry from Heather Lawrence, an art student in North Carolina. The posters are widely distributed and placed in venues where they generate interest in ICAW and promote compost-related events in communities throughout the country.
Other resources from the USCC include “Celebrate-ICAW,” a manual with guidelines and ideas for the week; ICAW Proclamation templates that local governments and businesses can use to formally recognize ICAW; and a composting-at-home guide.

The following is a sampling of events and activities held in various states during ICAW 2011, May 1-7:
California: The Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) in Chino held a series of events for its Compost Awareness Week celebrations that started with Earth Day Activities (last week of April) and culminated with ICAW events. These included a tour of the Inland Empire Regional Composting Facility, the largest fully enclosed composting plant in the U.S. operated by IEUA; Vermicomposting Demonstration and Workshop given by a Master Composter; and a Compost Giveaway.
Engel & Gray in Santa Maria, manufacturers and purveyors of Harvest Blend Compost, celebrated ICAW with an all-day “ProAm Garden Series: Lawn & Garden Workshop.” Speakers were on hand to illustrate the composting process, the importance of healthy soil for a healthy garden, proper plant selection and crop rotation, and top dressing lawns with compost. About 40 residents attended the event, which also included free compost and vegetable transplants. Children’s activities were included.
Georgia: Keep Roswell Beautiful along with the cities of Roswell and Alpharetta, held their 3rd annual Rain Barrel and Compost Bin Truck Load Sale a week after the official ICAW. The Georgia Recycling Coalition provided composting brochures to distribute. In Athens-Clarke County, Suki Janssen, Waste Reduction Administrator in the county’s Recycling Division organized a number of ICAW activities. These included a tour of the county’s MRF, landfill and compost facility for third-grade students; in-school composting program for pre-K and 4-year olds; a Compost Tea Party that discussed vermicompost and bin construction; a book reading and discussion at the local library about worms; and a composting basics workshop and bin sale at the Athens Area Farmers Market.
Missouri: Ashley Bement of St. Louis Composting reports that proclamations on ICAW were made by the Missouri Governor, House and Senate. St. Louis Composting’s (SLC’s) activities, promoted on the radio and in magazine ads, included customer appreciation events at several of its facilities (featuring a BBQ), and a “Give Compost a Grow at Home” workshop. A representative from Habitat for Humanity Re-Store gave a demonstration on how to make a compost bin; a staff member from the Missouri Botanical Gardens Earthways Center taught home composting basics. SLC showed customers the different types of materials that can be added to home composting. A television reporter also joined Bement at SLC’s Belleville Facility to report on composting at home. This also made viewers aware of the ICAW events going on that week (clips can be viewed at
Wisconsin: In Van Dyne, Compost Joe’s hosted a composting basics class and provided students with a facility tour and bags of compost.

Jeff Ziegenbein is Deputy Manager of Operations with the Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority (, and Chair of the USCC’s ICAW Committee. Dan Noble is Executive Director of the Association of Compost Producers (

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