Composting food waste at Haverford has been a hot topic for the last few years. The Dining Center, our biggest waste producer, throws out about a 1,000 lbs of food a day! Wow!! Considering we’re only 1100 students, that’s significant. Students are really getting in on the action about bringing awareness about food waste. Better Together, a new interfaith social justice club that is organizing a year-long direct action campaign that seeks to reduce food, water and electronic waste at Haverford, recently weighed the post-consumer waste from the DC. They figured that each student wasted about 140z per person. This is all post-consumer, we haven’t even started talking about pre-consumer… Hopefully in the next couple years we’ll be able to do in-vessel composting at the DC.
Students in the Haverford College Apartments (HCA), have also been hot on the composting topic. With the installation of the student vegetable garden and adding fruit production next year, the need for soil amendment is growing (pun intended). We’ve had slightly better success here. Over the last few years we have been adding composters for students to recycle their kitchen and garden waste. We just added a fourth Mantis ComposT-Twin, which work great for us as they hold a lot of material (25 cubic feet). They also have a dual chamber which allows students to fill one side while the other side “cooks.”
Faculty have also gotten the composting bug. Taking a ride around campus the other day I counted 4 composting containers outside faculty housing. I’ve also gotten requests for us to supply containers which, of course, I oblige in any way I can. We recently added two Compost Wizards behind a faculty apartment house, with the hope that we can get more faculty in the composting habit.
While not food waste, I did want to mention Grounds and Arboretum. Recently I had to calculate how much “yard waste” we compost for our Green House Gas emissions report. Haverford recycles between 95-98% of its green waste. That breaks down to 4,500 cubic feet of woodchips, 31,500 cubic feet of leaves and 21,600 cubic feet of general garden waste. Woodchips are aged and used for mulch while the leaves and green material are composted down and used on the community gardens.
While I know I’m getting long winded here I did want to mention how tough it is to educate people, especially on a large scale, on the proper way to compost. Teaching students and faculty that you can’t fill the container all the way up, and that you have to add a carbon source can sometimes be draining. On the flip side however, CER student Siena M. does a great job on spreading the word. Kudos to Siena.
Next step, Vermicomposting