In the upcoming weeks, compost bins will be placed in individual rooms and apartments in the Kennedy and Coughlin residence halls.
Each bin has a sticker explaining what can and cannot be composted, along with a QR code that will take students to the Rethink Waste page on Gonzaga’s website. There, students can find all of the information about waste and compost on campus.
The Rethink Waste GU website will have information for students about trash, recycling and compost on GU’s campus. They are updating the website to have information about the personal compost bins, how to compost in residence halls, where to get compost bags, larger compost bin locations and other questions they feel students might have.
This project originated from a collective dream of many people, but was put into action within the Student Sustainability Leadership Program (SSLP).
Waste reduction educator and AmeriCorps volunteer Kathryn Graham has been heavily involved in the process of organizing the compost bins.
“We want to show students that even though composting can seem daunting, it’s actually pretty easy to do,” Graham said.
The SSLP, the Office of Sustainability, Plant Services, Custodial Services and residence hall staff have worked closely to make this dream a reality. The project is beginning in Kennedy and Coughlin, but bins will eventually be in all residence halls. SSLP is not expecting short term results, but instead hope this will have a larger impact in the grand scheme of things as students become more aware about what is and is not compostable.
Jim Simon, GU’s director of sustainability, helped oversee this process.
“We want to create as many opportunities for students to make great choices about their consumption and habits,” Simon said.
According to Simon, 75% of students who are considering attending GU care about the environment and campus sustainability. These compost bins aim to show prospective students GU’s dedication to the environment and to sustainability, while also having a direct impact on campus waste.
“Offering these alongside recycling and trash bins will help divert waste to a place where waste can be regenerative,” Simon said. “We can send that compost to a composting facility which might end up in a garden bed back here on campus, so we’re creating a regenerative system.”
Graham hopes students will learn by doing and continue composting after their time at GU. By students composting and helping the Earth, Graham said the only possible impacts are positive.
These bins have been in the process for the last few years, and adjustments have been made on the back end many times. The Office of Sustainability has been adjusting the plan to make it easier to collect compost, make it less expensive, find the best compost facilities to send it to and to make it easier on behalf of the students and custodial services.
“The goal is really just to make it as easy as possible for students to successfully learn how to compost, and in the end divert a lot of waste,” Graham said.
Distribution of the bins will be happening in the coming weeks, and information will be announced in Morning Mail. Graham has also been working with the Zag Shop to sell compost bags, and those should be available for students to purchase by the end of the semester.
The Rethink Waste GU website will have answers to frequently asked questions, but the Office of Sustainability is also a great resource if you cannot find an answer on the website.
“We hope that these bins will be a jumping off point for a lot of students to examine their holistic environmental impacts,” Simon said. “That if they’re thinking about waste and consumption, they might start thinking about how else they can have an impact on the environment.”