Project: Dorm Building Composting

School: College of Env. Science and Forestry - SUNY

Project Summary: We have a 3 bin composting system located outside our dorm building.  We gave residents collection containers (recycled yogurt tubs, etc.) to collect food scraps in and take them out to the compost bin as they see fit.  This was followed by 3 events of compost education, with flyers on what can and can't be composted, and compost themed snacks (worms and dirt pudding cups).  We are hoping to expand into vermicompost in future years.  EcoReps are in charge of emptying the outdoor bin into the main compost bins each week (this is a student run initiative, and staff are overworked)

 

What steps did your organization take to complete the project?

This has been a project several years in the making.  First, we needed approval from building management.  We made a detailed proposal of the benefits of composting (political, economic, and environmental).  We originally wanted indoor composting, but building management was concerned about pests, so we compromised to move it outdoors (compromising is key when working with building management!). We then built our bins outside the building.  Then we had to create educational signage in our trash collection rooms to inform residents about the compost.  We also had several compost 101 workshops to educate the residents on composting and provide them with small collection bins to use at their own pace.  We put a collection bin on the outdoor patio and painted it with pictures of what can go into the compost.

 

What challenges did you face, and how were they addressed?

We had some misunderstandings with building management about the purpose of the collection bins and the concern over pests in the building.  With the right attitude and time spent to educate staff, things became clear.

 

What impact has the project had on your campus and the community?

Reducing food waste is an easy first step to living a more sustainable lifestyle. Reducing the amount of food that goes into the trash to be incinerated is better for the environment, and has economic benefits for the school. Waste hauling has a fee by weight, so reducing weight of overall trash being produced by the dorm building means lower waste hauling fees.