Ezra Galant interviewed WasteNot’s co-founder Liam Donnelly as part of his Tzedek Project.

Ezra Galant is an eighth grade student who recently celebrated his BMitzvah at Mishkan. As part of the BMitzvah process, students take on a tzedek/justice project. Together we learn about Jewish approaches to local, national and international justice causes, different methods of making change, and work together to make a difference on an issue that is important to the student.

Thank you, Ezra, for educating our community about the importance of composting! If you are interested in composting with WasteNot in your home, use the code MISHKANWNC22 for one free month of service ($24 value).


I originally became interested in composting when I was around 7 years old. I was assigned an Earth Day Pledge where I wrote about composting. I had learned about composting from a neighbor and immediately wanted to begin to do so. However, he had a special system that just took too much work and effort for my family. Three years later, my mom learned about a company called WasteNot that had begun to be more popular. They were a composting company that did all the work for you and all you had to do was give them your compost. I thought it was brilliant, and when I heard about the Tzedek project I had to do for my B’Mitzvah, I knew I had to do it on WasteNot.

WasteNot Compost is an organization devoted to helping the city of Chicago compost and reduce waste. Liam Donnelly created the organization when he was only 15 years old after realizing that the cafe he worked at had so much food waste going into the garbage. He started composting coffee grounds for a couple local cafes including the one he had worked at. I had the privilege of being able to interview Liam this spring to ask him some questions about WasteNot. During the interview, Liam said “I thought it was something I’d do for a couple weeks or until I graduated high school.”

He soon picked up a partner, high school friend, Lauren Kaszuba, who encouraged Liam to start picking up at houses. Liam began locally and picked up compost all on a bike with a trailer attached, sometimes biking two days straight. However, to stick with WasteNot’s zero emissions motto, Liam went all the way to California to bring an electric truck back to move on from biking. Since the beginning, Liam had been working out of his parents backyard and years later moved on to a small rented out warehouse.

Since starting with just some small cafes, Liam’s organization has improved in almost every aspect. Not only are they the biggest compost provider in Chicago with one of the largest electric fleets in Chicago, but they have been ranked the #1 compost collection service in the USA. They have still stuck to being completely zero emissions to this day and Liam and Lauren are still trekking away to get more people to compost. They are making such a big impact on pushing back against climate change and global warming.

A lot of people still believe that climate change isn’t even a real threat; that someone else will get the job done. Maybe it’s that it won’t affect them and will only have effects in the far future. One of the ways we can start to push back is composting. By composting, we’re making more room in landfills and reducing greenhouse gas emissions which will in turn, preserve our world. As Liam put it: “Faiths across the world are starting to realize that for the faith to continue, there needs to be some aspect of sustainability.”

WasteNot is such an easy way to start composting, but it makes all the difference. By joining me and beginning to compost, we will begin to make the dent in the push against global warming.