by Margaret Allen
If you haven’t noticed already, here at Roosevelt we have launched a new system for composting food scraps and biodegradable waste. Just in time for spring and the advent of Earth Month, magical green bins have appeared underneath new signage since students and faculty have returned from spring break! Members of the RU community can now officially compost anything that was once alive by placing it into these bins.
Whether or not you know much about composting, just take note of this: any organic matter can be placed into these bins. Unlike a small-scale composting operation, you can put meat and dairy into these bins as long as there is no liquid. All food items from the Dining Center, can be thrown away in the green bins (including your container)!
The ultimate goal of composting is to divert unnecessary items from ending up in landfills. A large percentage of the solid waste produced at RU, which students in the SUST program have demonstrated in previous waste audits, is food/biodegradable material which could’ve been composted. Composting is a natural decomposition process that produces healthy, rich soil, which in turn can be used to enrich our WB Rooftop and Schaumburg Campus Community Gardens. In other words, composting isn’t just less wasteful, it’s also environmentally beneficial.
In contrast, landfills emit greenhouse gases such as methane (which contribute to global warming) as well as toxic leachate, which can contaminate ground water resources. The less we add to landfills, the better. While many items that cannot be placed into a composting or recycling bin will end up in a landfill, the less we consume non-compostable, non-recyclable items, the less waste we create as individuals, which in turn reduces our institution’s overall carbon footprint.
Wondering what exactly you can put into RU’s Composting bins? Acceptable items include:
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Loose leaf tea and filters
- Tea bags with staples removed
- Egg shells
- Used paper napkins/paper towels
- Used paper plates without waxy coating
- Hair from brush
- Nail clippings
- Pencil shavings
- Cotton balls and swabs (100% cotton and cardboard only – no plastic)
- Dustpan contents
- Trimmings from house plants
- Dead plants (not diseased or weeds) – including soil
Now just as importantly, what should you not put into the Composting bins?
- Tea bags with staples (remove to compost), sachets, or other non-organic bags
- Coated paper that has a glossy finish and/or multiple layers
- Oils and grease
- Inorganic materials such as: polyester, rubber, acrylics, and plastic
Happy composting! And if you have questions about RU’s new waste reduction system, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org — you can also check this FAQ page at InsideRoosevelt.
Margaret Allen is a senior SUST major from Mokena IL who currently lives on Chicago’s SW Side. She is working this semester as a Sustainability Studies Associate in the College of Arts and Sciences.