With help from CGA, compost system undergoes improvement

The compost system on campus will soon be undergoing improvements to make the collection process more efficient. Second-year and compost TA David Smith is currently working with the Committee of Green Affairs (CGA) in exploring new alternatives that would not only increase the productivity of composting, but would also make it more widespread on campus.

“We’re hoping to get [Hamilton “Ham” Center] involved,” Smith said. “Hopefully, by next year, we’ll have a larger, better composting system, so we really wanted to be able to tell the cafeteria that we can handle all the waste they can give us any day.”

The system that is in now is fairly basic. Students can put unwanted fruit and vegetable remains, clean or shredded paper and grains into the vented bins located near their dorms, the contents of which are collected once every other week. The compost is then taken and mixed with carbon materials — dead mulch, leaves and other organic remains. When combined with water, according to Smith, “microbes [then] break down the compost and actually heat it up to about 130 degrees,” creating the ultimate plant food. The Environmental Protection Agency stated on its website that items that could be composted constitute of “27 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream” and can remediate contaminated soil, prevent pollution and provide economic benefits.

To improve upon the compost system that is already in place, the CGA has ordered a quadricycle that can carry up to four compost bins to speed up the collection process, and plans on getting smaller compost bins that can be more widely spread out on campus. Second-year and Vice President of Green Affairs Taylor Filaroski told the Catalyst via e-mail that “about $20,000 (a little less) of Green Fee money has been allocated towards the Compost Overhaul project.”

“We’re also definitely going to have about one-gallon size composting bins that you can put in your freezer so [students] don’t have to deal with bags anymore,” Smith said. “Honestly, the biggest thing is that people put things in plastic bags because it’s nasty and they want to get rid of it,  so when they dump it out they carry it [in a plastic bag] and throw it in the compost. It’s really quick, but that creates a lot of problems down the line when I’m trying to empty [the bins] out altogether and I have to fish them out. So if [students] could not do that, it would wonderful.”

For next year, Smith said that he would greatly appreciate if volunteers would help him with the composting collection, and expressed interest in creating a compost tutorial.

“I’d love to have people come out and have an area where you can experiment with different kinds of compost,” Smith said. “So definitely, this year, I’d like to focus on getting the right stuff in the compost and next year I’d like a lot of volunteers and a lot of hands on interaction.”

For first-year and compost user David Weinstein, helping the environment is one of his initiatives for discarding his waste into the bins.

“It’s more of a ‘I might as well’ sort of thing,” Weinstein said. “If I lived elsewhere and I had to go elsewhere, I probably wouldn’t do it, but it’s here, so it’s convenient. I’ve heard that people are thinking about having individual composts, which would be amazing, but I understand that would probably be very difficult for collection because it would be really involved. There was a time for a while where our compost wasn’t collected — which is, again, understandable, because it’s a shitty job, but if it got collected regularly, it would make everything awesome.”

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