Rotting vegetables and putrid fruit? Decomposition has never been so exciting. SEAK, Students for Environmental Activism and Knowledge, is harnessing the power of nature and bringing it to campus in the form of composting. Composting is not a new idea, as nature has been doing it for 4.5 billion years or so, but it has gained popularity in the past few decades among humans looking to be more environmentally friendly. Yard and kitchen waste make up an approximate 30 percent of the waste stream in the United States alone, and many individuals are looking for new ways to help repair this damage to the planet. Composting bins are an easy and cost-efficient way to start.
“Our goal was to find bins that were both [financially] feasible and user friendly,” senior and active member of SEAK Marie Franki said. “The four compost bins we got are self-aerating. This method breaks down food more quickly.” Self-aeration allows matter to decompose nearly four times faster than normal composting bins and no turning of the soil is required at any time.
Not only was SEAK concerned with the method of composting itself, but they were also concerned about the aesthetic appeal of the bins. “We got the compost bins, and along with the SU Art Association, we painted them to make them more attractive to look at. It was a small gesture to make them a bit more beautified than the industrial green they came painted as. We wanted this to be an opportunity to open it up to the campus community and encourage them to get involved with the project.”
It’s this sense of collaboration that SEAK hopes will be unifying for the campus. “I’m excited they have them,” junior Rachel Baker said of the bins. “I’ve been composting on my own for a while now [as a member of the Garden Club] and the fact that they have these now is really helpful. It’s a really easy way to students to learn to become a little more sustainable.”
The bins will be placed conveniently around campus for easy access for students. “They will be at the Lord Center apartments and between Brown-Cody, Kurth and Mabee. One of them will be down by Moody-Shearn and the lacrosse fields, and the last will go near the Dorothy Lord Center.”
Franki emphasized the importance of taking composting seriously, as Physical Plant has donated a great deal of time and effort into the project. “It wasn’t even this year that we started lobbying for the bins. It started last year, with the group before us. Typically, the mindset seems to be that it’s stupid and time consuming. It’s important to take an opportunity to repair the damage we inflict on the earth. It’s not going to take much out of your way to throw some tea bags in a compost bin. It’s not a huge expenditure of effort.”
With a little education on the topic of composting, SU students can participate and do their part to give a little back.
“The things you can compost are things like coffee grounds, tea bags, vegetables, fruit and egg shells,” Franki said. “Things you can’t compost include meat, bread, oily substances – like any kind of grease or a salad with a bunch of dressing. Liquids don’t compost well either, as well as dairy products.”
SEAK hopes to instigate a system in which lawn clippings and other plant matter accumulated through campus grooming are also disposed of in the composting bins.
“We’re working on more projects to make the campus greener and more environmentally friendly, and we all believe this is a great one” said Franki.