The word “sustainability” has become one of the most heard buzz words of the last year, especially within the circles of Miami’s campus and administration, with the university issuing a new statement on their commitment to improving sustainability starting with the 2013 school year. Miami seems set to make good on its promise, though, with the start of Miami’s first composting program to make sustainable use of Miami’s organic waste. The composting program beginning this February and implemented by Miami’s Green Team will use biodegradable waste, such as food scraps, lawn scraps, and many paper products or other easily biodegraded utensils used in Miami’s dining halls to make natural, organic soil. The science behind composting involves natural bacteria that will speed of the decomposition process of this biodegradable waste into a form that can be recycled into the environment. Rather than sending these products to a landfill, where they would degrade slowly and take up space for years, composting will transform these useless scraps into fertile material that can be used for Miami’s own landscaping as well as distributed to gardening centers and planters throughout the Oxford area. Some examples of biodegradable products that Miami already use are the brown paper napkins used throughout campus, silverware in King Café made of natural plastics, and paper coffee cups at 1809 and Bell Tower.
Success of this latest step towards sustainability will involve not only collection from campus facilities, but also direct student participation in making sure that compostable materials are sent to the proper place. While scraps from dining halls ad physical facilities will be taken directly to Demske Culinary Center to be deposited in a brand new compost compactor, plans are in affect to created strategically placed composting bins to accommodate more student generated material. This is where Miami’s Green Team comes into play, as they will soon begin a campaign to gain student attention for the compost collection areas that will be placed in King Café. These collections will be separated into three bins, all clearly color coded to allow students to get rid of their waste efficiently. Black bins in the collection areas will be designated for compostable goods, blue bins for recycling plastics, paper or aluminum cans, and grey bins for any waste that can neither be recycled nor composted and must unfortunately be sent to a landfill.
The Green Team, led by Yvette Kline, Director of Energy and Conservation for Miami’s physical facilities, and consisting of numerous students dedicated to promoting sustainability on campus, are using the slogan of “Love Red, Live Green, Recycle Blue, Compost Black” to promote the philosophy behind this latest project. The encouragement for students is to be active in sustainability efforts not only to protect the environment, but also to better their own campus and university experience by wasting less and giving back to the community. The Team, along with Miami administration and dining services, hope to be able to gauge the student body’s initial reaction and feelings to the composting movement with the February pilot project in King, and then to gradually grow from there, eventually installing more compost compactors at facilities throughout campus and more collection areas as student needs become more apparent. Plans are also in the works to partner with residence hall Eco Reps in order to bring more of those ubiquitous pizza boxes found in dormitory trash cans into the compostable waste stream, as well as to garner more interest from community businesses and growers into purchasing fertile, natural compost from Miami in the future. The current goal is to collect up to 12 tons per week through the university wide collection point at Demske Culinary Center and begin to explore ways that Miami can make more efficient use of its resources while working towards reducing waste and returning natural materials back to the Earth.