Students can now compost food scraps without having to leave their rooms. The Housing Office and the Office of Sustainability teamed up to expand composting efforts beyond food service locations and common areas within academic and residence hall buildings to individual residence hall rooms for students, faculty, and staff living within residence halls. This program allows for 128 residents to receive their own free compost pail for in-room use (in the same way that each resident receives a recycling bin).
Through a series of pail give-away events in the Learning Commons, as well as through programming events with Community Facilitators and Sustainability Liaisons in residence halls, participants learn the DOs and DON’Ts of composting and participate in surveys that will help the Office of Sustainability track the success of the program throughout the year. This is the first time the Office is tracking waste behavior through survey feedback and collection, and it will be able to reveal not only the informational, behavioral, and physical barriers to composting on campus, but also how to improve our system as a whole.
Many participants seem to have a good understanding of what composting is and how to sort their waste, but there is room for improvement, especially with knowledge about new serviceware items on campus, such as the compostable coke cup and the recyclable black plastic utensils. Through this program, students are already learning more about our waste diversion systems. ASG Junior Senator Garrett Jenson says, “I had no idea how much of what I throw away could actually be going to compost: from food scraps to pizza boxes.” Through feedback like this, we can increase awareness about compostable products on campus through our signage, messaging, and events.
There are already 82 participants involved, ranging from Faculty Directors and CFs to seniors and freshmen. Participants seem to enjoy the program because of its convenience and ability to effect change in a small way. They are not only noticing the change made within themselves, but they are also witnessing these changes in their fellow Broncos. Antonia Gunner notes, “Before we got the provided pail we never composted, and now everyone in our suite knows where to throw their food away! Even the people who visit our suite make the effort to compost, we are creating environmentalists one person at a time.”
The program is not only about increasing our composting habits and diverting waste away from landfill, it is also about increasing awareness of sustainability issues and creating a culture of sustainability among campus residents. It contributes to the wellness of the environment by helping alter our disposal habits toward a system that renews and rejuvenates organic matter.
By Mimi Sanicola, '13 Sustainability Intern--Waste Diversion