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Composting on Campus

Payton Palmer | Contributing Writer


The USDA estimates that more than one-third of the food we produce is wasted, which equals about 131 billion pounds of food being wasted annually (Elnakib, 2021). Food waste has detrimental effects on the environment. When food waste sits in landfills the landfills become one of the biggest producers of methane, a harmful greenhouse gas (Adhikari, 2006). However, composting is a great and easy way to reduce organic waste, therefore we need more composting on campus.

Eastern Connecticut State University’s Institute of Sustainability is helping Eastern to reduce waste, specifically food waste. Food waste reduction programs are in place here on campus, but they are not widely known. For example, Hurley Hall donates “Left-over fresh and unspoiled food” to the Willimantic Soup Kitchen twice a week, a program called “Warrior Food Recovery”. This program has saved 2,719 pounds of food from being wasted. Also, the Institute has a composting initiative, yet many students on campus do not know about it.

Composting on campus would put organic waste to good use. For example, St. John's University (Queens) began composting in 2009, and with their student body of 16,000 the school collects 1,600 pounds of food waste (some starches, fruit and vegetables) as well as 400 pounds of used coffee grounds a week all used for composting (Tucker, 2012). As a campus of approximately 4,000, we may not have as much waste, but what we do produce could be minimized if we started composting. This compost could be used in garden beds across campus and sold to local farmers.

Furthermore, more than just food waste is involved in making compost; other organic matter can be used in compost. The students at St. John’s use grass clippings and fall leaves in their compost (Tucker, 2012). Compost could be almost any material that breaks down easily, like cardboard. The material needs to be layered on top of each other and mixed every so often. This mixing step ensures that your compost does not smell because your organic matter is getting oxygen, something it does not get in a landfill.

Knowing this information, it is time for ECSU to get their hands dirty and start composting! Good scraps for compost are collected every Wednesday and Thursday 11-1 in the science building lobby. The Institute of Sustainability will have an additional drop off site at the Earth Day Market STU patio and FAIC amphitheater on Monday April 22 11-2. They are also trying to organize collection sites during move out May 1-10 as students clean out their fridges. Eastern students can easily reduce food waste in their day-to-day habits.

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