Photos by Nicole Fougere
Nicole Fougere – Contributing Writer
Earlier this month, a project to raise student awareness of composting through a visual display in the Valentine dining hall was revealed as part of a campaign to increase composting at Lasell.
Student and sustainability intern for the dining hall, Erin Moore, had a major part in the creation of the display and continues to assist with promotion.
“We’re trying to get students more involved in composting and to get more people to compost their food while in the dining hall,” Moore said.
The project is a simple concept. It features three jars in a sequence of beginning, middle, and end. The first is a mixture of food scraps, the middle displays the food breaking down, and the end shows the compost turned into soil. These are located near the compost bins in the dining hall.
The compost and recycling barrels were installed last year with the renovation of the dining hall and anything that is food-based can be placed them.
Christine Hubbard, Operations Manager for Sodexo at Lasell, was also involved in the creation of the display and has already noted an increase in composting.
“If you look in the barrel now as compared to a couple of weeks ago there’s more compost in the barrel,” Hubbard said.
Roxey Connelly, Manager of Plant Operations, and the Plant Operations team are working to try to change the flow of the area to encourage students to compost more.
Most students enter the area from the left and exit on the right. The compost and recycling barrels are currently on the right side, therefore less students notice them, according to Connelly and multiple sources.
Connelly said they plan on getting a new compost bin in the next few weeks which will be placed on the left side of the dish-drop area in hopes to grab more student attention and better the flow, said Connelly.
Along with new bins Connelly created signage to place into the napkin holders in the dining hall, to remind students why they should compost.
“My main focus is to keep composting and recycling at the forefront of everyone’s mind…and to get them to understand the impact,” said Connelly.
The lack in participation may also be due to lack of instruction and knowledge.
“I think students will take the time to do it, once they know what to do,” said Andera Leone, Plant Operations intern.
This issue has not been ignored. Moore spends time during lunch hours explaining to students what can and can’t be composted. In addition, Hubbard has recruited some help.
“We’re trying to work with the volleyball team to get a couple of them there a couple times a week to direct the flow of traffic and educate people, helping us get the composting word out there,” said Hubbard.
Hubbard discovered last year when she went to speak to a class about composting the shortage of student involvement may be also due to students not seeing composing as a reward.
“When I went to talk to a class last year, literally the first question that I got was, ‘how much money are we going to save on our tuition if we compost?’” said Hubbard. “You’re saving the earth that’s all you’re doing, but for some people they want a reward for that.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.”
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday the waste management and recycling company, Save That Stuff, Inc. (based out of Charlestown), comes to Lasell and collects all the leftover food stored in bins from composting into a giant truck.
“The trucks can pick up to 20 tons of food waste at a time,” according to a Save That Stuff employee through a phone interview.
He said the food waste is sent to Brick Ends Farm in South Hamilton where they mix the food with leaves and yard waste to turn into compost.
The Brick Ends Farm sells the compost to farmers and landscapers, but the farm also gives back — in a big way.
Brick Ends Farm is affiliated with the non-profit organization called Kidz b Kidz (KBK). The organization works with children to create artwork to be featured on products, with the KBK name, that will then be sold to “foster healing and comfort in a child’s hospital experience and to support medical research,” according to the website, www.kidzbkidz.org.
Brick Ends Farm packages up their compost, with drawings by children on the bag, and sends it to Whole Foods Markets where the profits from the compost are used to support children’s hospitals, according to the website, www.kidzbkidz.org
Two years ago all of Lasell’s leftover food — trash included — was driven to a landfill 900 miles away.
“Last we checked it was in South Carolina,” said Hubbard.
The trash from the dumpsters is still driven to the landfill, she said, however the reduction of waste is still significantly less.
Two years ago Lasell had no part in creating compost or helping brighten a sick child’s day. Now two year later, a marvelous cycle has been created.