College tests composting program in residences

Last Monday, the College put a special composting pilot program into effect at select dorms on campus as part of a unique composting initiative meant to advance the sustainability goals of the College.

“Since Dining [Services] made the shift over to compostable to-go ware, it makes sense to have composting locations in other places around campus,” said Mike Evans, assistant director of the Zilkha Center. “Abby Rampone [’17] did an interesting project in her fall course ‘Renewable Energy and the Sustainable Campus’ that surveyed students as to their behavior when it came to food waste outside of the dining halls and their willingness to go out of their way to properly dispose of compost. She also looked at various options to expand the compost program.”

The composting pilot program will be present, at least in its inception, in Dodd House and Poker Flats. Although all College dining halls are equipped with post-consumer compost, no composting stations exist outside of these locations. The compost bins in Dodd and Poker can process food and compostable to-go ware. These bins are in each dorm’s kitchens and are available for all students to use and not just those cooking in the kitchens.

Compost inside the bins will be picked up and layered with sawdust until it is transported to T.A.M. Organics in Bennington, Vt., where it will be added to other compostable material and will eventually break down into a compost that can be supplemented to soil as an enriching agent.

“Diverting food waste and other compostables from the trash returns valuable nutrients to the soil. It means that more organic matter will be created from our waste and less will go with the rest of the trash to the incinerator,” Evans said. “Ideally, as a campus we will take bolder strides to reduce waste in general.”

In a few weeks, the Zilkha Center will send out a survey to residents of Dodd and Poker Flats asking for feedback on how dorm composting can improve. Evans asks students to “please help us reduce food waste by not taking more than you will eat and by properly disposing of food waste and other compostables in the compost bins.”

As for those students wondering whether or not the pilot composting program will be expanded to their dorm in the near future, Evans reccomended reaching out to the Zilkha Center to ask about composting in a specific dorm.