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The Blue & Gray Press | August 21, 2019

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Effects of Composting Will Come Up Smelling of Roses


Many of us heard Kermit the Frog sing that “it’s not easy being green.” The University of Mary Washington begs to differ. UMW has been doing a great job with environmental sustainability efforts. Recycling in the dorms, the “Do One Thing” program and the various eco-conscious posters that dot campus bulletin boards are only a few of the ways UMW has committed itself to reducing the campus’ impact on the environment.

In April of 2012, UMW came in first in Virginia, and 18th internationally, in the annual RecycleMania competition by recycling 37.96 pounds of materials per person in eight weeks, according to an April 16, 2012 University newsletter.

But amid all the sustainability projects that UMW has led, there seems to be one component missing: a compost pile. For those unfamiliar with the process, a compost pile involves the decomposition of organic material, such as apple cores, coffee grinds and orange peels. These materials are left to rot outside until they break down into soil. Composting is a valuable use of the natural decomposition process that reduces the amount of organic material we waste.

So what does composting give us? A big whopping pile of dirt? Many might inquire why exactly we need more dirt. Compost, however, is not just plain, old dirt; rather, it’s the black gold mine of beneficial nutrients that work miracles for landscapers, farmers and gardeners alike.

Compost is chock full of natural fertilizers and pesticides, which can reduce, or even completely eliminate, the need for chemical additives in agriculture and gardening. Plants grown in composted soil have been shown to yield higher volume and healthier specimens. But most importantly, compost is a way to reuse the food and lawn waste which, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, accounts for 27 percent of America’s solid waste.

A compost pile is no harder to maintain than a recycling bin. All it requires is a little water, sunlight and mixing about every two weeks or so to incorporate all those glorious worms, fungi, bacteria and natural chemicals that are so beneficial to plants.

In light of the fact that apple cores can be thrown just as easily into a compost pile as into a trash can, I suggest our President’s Council on Sustainability give composting some thought. Campus composting would be as easy as placing plastic bins next to all the dumpsters. Surely there are several eco-minded students willing to stir it up every few weeks. In a matter of weeks, we could have all-natural fertilizer for our gardens and the Jepson greenhouse.

A UMW compost pile would give the landscapers, biology professors and our atmosphere a cause for rejoicing.

And just think, one more way to prove Kermit the Frog wrong. It is easy, and rewarding, to be green.