Starting Wednesday, the new student-run Composting Committee began composting food waste from the kitchens of 350 residential units throughout campus. Compostable material will be transformed into fertilizer and used at Long Lane Farm.
Corey Guilmette ’13 first proposed the new program in a meeting with Director of Environmental Health, Safety, & Sustainability Bill Nelligan at the end of last semester. The 350 residential units that are targeted compromise more than half of undergraduate housing. The committee also hopes to reach out to graduate students since many live near the seven green machines placed throughout campus. If the program proves successful, more green machines will be purchased.
Advertising began just this week, but students have already expressed interest, according to organizers. Although such programs have failed in previous years, the committee is planning to make changes that they hope will bring about success.
“Last year it sort of fell apart because of two main problems,” said Guilmette, who heads the committee. “First, it was more broadly targeted at the campus in general and not just residential units with kitchens, so a lot of people didn’t even know what the green machines were and random stuff got put in them. Then last year, the people who initially ran [composting] graduated. They weren’t properly maintained so they started leaking and rotting.”
Guilmette, along with 15 other active members, hopes to remedy the misuse of the machines mainly by educating students about the composting process. Information has been posted on the Composting Committee’s website and will be written on the green composting machines. In addition, students will receive magnets for their refrigerators and stickers for their composting bins.
“We’re going to make it as simple as possible and ourselves as accessible as possible,” Guilmette said.
To participate in the initiative, students only need to place their composting material in one of the green machines around campus and spin it. Compostable material includes tea bags, grains, fruits, and more. It does not include non-organic items, meat, or liquids.
The committee is also hosting training meetings to introduce students to the program. Furthermore, they will be distributing composting buckets, magnets, and stickers from Sunday to this Tuesday in the lobbies of Olin and the Science Libraries from 9 p.m. to midnight.
An art exhibit promoting composting was placed outside of Weshop yesterday.
To solve the issue of maintenance, the Committee hopes to attain a few work-study positions by next fall so the program does not deteriorate as it has in previous years. For now, members of the committee will oversee the maintenance of the green machines.
The composting initiative is financed through the Green Fund established last year to promote sustainability on campus. The Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) purchased the seven green machines in 2008.
The Composting Committee will also be receiving assistance from Physical Plant, which currently runs the program at the Usdan Marketplace dining hall. Furthermore, Physical Plant maintains two industrial composters at Long Lane Farm. When the machines fill up they will be transferred to the larger industrial composters.
Guilmette expressed gratitude for Bill Nelligan’s assistance to the Composting Committee.
“Bill Nelligan has been really helpful and showed us where their green machines are, how to use them, how to drive the trucks,” he said. “He’s been instrumental.”
There is also interest in composting for residence halls, but it will not be implemented at this time, since these kitchens are much less organized and generally see less cooking.
“We’d really like to do it, it’s just that it’s more of a complicated process in terms of coordinating with the dorms,” Guilmette said. “We might allow some dorms to compost if they can express enough interest and coordination, but the main problem with that right now is that we don’t have enough composting machines. So if they’re willing to do a little more legwork on it, it’s certainly feasible.”