Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Campus Compost Programs Address Food Waste

In honor of Earth Day, we're highlighting several composting programs at universities across the country that are successfully reducing food waste.

Compost is a sustainable process, using science to turn food waste into black gold.

Photo: Courtesy of Marilyn M (Flickr)

A properly balanced compost pile combines food scraps with brown matter like leaves and straw.

Here at Earth Eats, we subscribe to local, sustainable and healthy eating every day — and Earth Day is no different! Today, we’re concentrating on one way to take care of the planet after the meal is over: composting.

According to the EPA, food scraps make up 10 percent of American landfills. Instead of mindlessly throwing our leftover food in the trash, we can compost it and watch as it transforms into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. That’s what I call a win-win!

Universities In Action

As an Indiana University student, I see waste everywhere. The college lifestyle is on-the-go, which means our food typically is as well. I play victim to it myself, throwing away half-eaten sandwiches without ever considering where the waste will end up. Luckily, Indiana University started a composting program in September 2011. Go Hoosiers!

The EPA is hoping to encourage more universities to be mindful of the waste they accumulate with the Food Recovery Challenge. Recently, 23 New England colleges joined the challenge, which aims to reduce the 1.64 million tons of food currently sent to landfills in six New England states.

Here are three other colleges that are dealing with food waste in an earth-friendly way:

  • The University of Texas in Arlington‘s composting program began eight years ago. In 2012, the university composted nearly 62,000 pounds of food debris.
  • The University of California at Merced hopes to generate zero landfill waste by 2020. Last year, 28 tons of food waste and garbage were turned into compost.
  • Syracuse University partners with the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency for their campus composting efforts. The food is collected from lunch trays and is taken to Amboy Compost Site in Camillus, NY.

Half Eaten Food

Photo: Courtesy of gromgull (Flickr)

Meat products definitely cannot be added to a compost pile, so save that last hunk of meat and eat it for tomorrow's lunch!

Inspired? Here are tips for how to start a compost heap in your backyard or even in your kitchen.

Read More:

  • Composting 101: Tips And Tricks For Creating A Healthy Heap (Earth Eats)
  • Summary of the EPA Municipal Solid Waste Program (EPA)
  • What is Composting? (RecycleWorks)
Caroline Hoven

Caroline Hoven is studying journalism at Indiana University. She has a passion for learning how to cook.

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