The Department of Campus Environment is working to reduce the amount of trash heading to the landfills from Columbia College through its composting program. What originally began as a mound of yard waste collected in bins in the alley of the theater building has grown to a campus-wide effort to collect organic waste and turn it into useful products; in this case, compost.
“We are using what we’re creating, so it’s full circle,” said Neale Baldyga, compost manager of the Department of Campus Environment.
The program has grown to include 15 collection bins on campus, located in cafes and student spaces, as well as staff and faculty offices. Baldyga said he takes the opportunity when he’s making the rounds on campus to stop and talk to students and staff to clue them into the program and the good it can do.
In addition to progressing views on sustainability on campus, the program has significantly reduced the amount of trash from Columbia shipped off to landfills. From September of 2011 to August of this year, over 14,800 pounds of materials were collected for composting.
The Department of Campus Environment’s sustainability manager, John Wawrzaszek, has also seen the effort affect the planning of events, especially Student Convocation. Instead of using plastics, John urged event coordinators to use paper materials and collect food scraps. The endeavor paid off, as this year’s convocation sent 96 percent of waste collected to the Resource Center, a non-profit organization that composts material for the college.
And don’t worry about hallways and offices reeking of week-old garbage. The bins are lined with corn-based compostable bags, which Baldyga collects at least two to three times a week. And thanks to a donation by PortionPac, the bins are cleaned regularly with green products.
While recycling and composting might be the “last thing on (students’) minds,” said Baldyga, he’s noticing excitement building. “People seem to be pretty amped about it.”
Where can I find compost bins?