Students Push for More Composting
By EMILY MONTGOMERY
The sustainability team at the University of Mary Washington is hoping to move in a greener direction with the development of a new food composting program.
The school already composts all yard waste at two spots on campus, one by the baseball field and one by Brompton. The team hopes to divert additional pounds of waste from landfills by composting food remains from the Eagle’s Nest and Seacobeck.
Sodexo, the contractor for UMW Dining Services, estimated that the kitchens throw away over 500 lbs of food waste per day.
The team, which has been working on the project all summer, is hoping to base the plan off of a University of Virginia program, in which food waste is trucked to a nearby farm, where it is composted and becomes the property of the farm to sell or use as fertilizer. However, no farms local to Fredericksburg have agreed to accept the school’s compost.
Senior Nate Delano, the sustainability coordinator, says that they still hope to find a willing contractor. If the team is unable to find a composting facility, they are considering other options, such as putting a machine directly on campus.
“This would have a higher start-up cost,” Delano said.
Emily Morton, a member of the Students for a Democratic Society, originally had the idea for the composting project. She planned to have SDS members help with on-campus composting.
She approached the sustainability team because they run recycling, and they agreed to try to develop it.
“Our image of ‘being green’ and our amount of waste, and therefore our carbon footprint, could be quickly minimized with composting,” Morton said.
Delano said that if a program is developed, no matter if the composting takes place on or off campus, the sustainability team still wants it to be largely student-run.
Other members of the UMW community are equally eager to get the program started.
“We had been interested in creating such a program for several years,” junior Carly Byers, of the Ecology Club, said.
She added that they cannot wait to learn more and get UMW students excited about going green.
The composting program would not be a burden for Eagle’s Nest and Seacobeck employees, according to John Dering, general manager of dining services.
“[The dining team is] more than willing and more than excited to incorporate composting,” Dering said. “We want it to be convenient for everybody.”
The kitchen already participates in sustainable practices, like using herbs from a small garden outside of Seacobeck and featuring produce from local farmers.
According to the project’s organizers, a possible obstacle is that the product of the process, fresh compost, is typically used for gardens, which are hard to maintain at universities because students are not generally on campus during the summer.