What started in Knutzen hall as a small scale compost program in 2012 has been adopted across campus.
Composting is the process of converting organic scraps into something useful for soils, and students were offered a way to participate even while living in the halls.
“Students liked the opportunity to do vermaculture, and it eventually turned into being able to collect organic waste in their rooms,” said facilities designer of the residence halls Cindy Von Gnetchen.
The waste students collect in rooms is brought to a collection bin in their hall. Afterward, it is brought to the Waste Education Center on Maria Drive.
When the program started, the compost was held in biodegradable bags. This caused some problems with the center’s machinery, and residence halls converted to compostable bags.
The bags are made of corn-starch and break down quickly.
“The compostable bags work a lot better. If students don’t empty their bag often, it will even start to breakdown right there in the room” Von Gnetchen said.
Other groups were making efforts to utilize compost. Using green fund money in 2013, the student led Sustainable Agriculture in Communities Society installed a four-bin compost system.
“It is a well-designed system and whatever soil it produces we use in the garden,” said SACS president Megan Hogfeldt. “We also encourage on and off campus students to dump their compost at the site.”
Senior geology major Ross Northcraft said garbage was reduced. “It also made us pay more attention to what we do throw away.”
Composting, in addition to reducing waste, made those who participated more conscious of their habits. Rather than filling up space in a landfill, organic scraps are collected in places like the community garden and Waste Education Center to turn it into healthy soil.