Imagine the following scenarios: You are sitting at Commons grabbing a quick bite from Comma; you are walking past the Courtyard finishing your coffee from Tim’s; you have just wrapped up a study session at the library and are left with a bit of paper waste; or perhaps you and your friends have been hanging out at your apartment and have ordered a pizza for lunch. 

Much like a lot of other activities in our days, we end up generating a lot of waste. While we all try not to litter, our garbage will end up in a landfill anyways. Composting, where possible, offers a solution to this issue.

“What?! UBCO has a composting program on campus?”

This is the most common comment, Brady, a Bachelors of Arts student surveying the awareness of composting, has been met with. His intention is to gauge the general knowledge on campus about composting facilities, and compostable material and its benefits.

Sustainability has been a key area of focus around the world in recent times, as various popular ways of mitigating climate change have been added to our daily routines. Composting is surely one of the easiest steps to incorporate in your journey towards an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Food waste is one of the largest sources of waste in landfills and is a major burden on the environment. The staggering amount of this organic waste stream is expensive to process and a prime source of human generated methane emissions. 

Composting, in simpler words, is the natural process of recycling organic matter. 

UBCO announced a climate emergency back in 2019 and is actively trying to build a sustainable community on campus. It is important to recognize that, with the collective responsibility and effort of the university community, we can tackle this issue.

Brady shared his experience interacting with fellow students on campus and said that, “While a lot of surveyed participants were aware of composting as a concept, they weren’t sure of what could be composted” 

“They were surprised to know that pizza boxes and paper could be composted.”

So, let’s talk about what can be composted:

Food Scraps: Vegetables, fruits, bones, meat, seafood shells, fish and fish bones, chicken and chicken bones, fats, eggs and egg shells, nuts, cheese, leftovers.

Coffee, filters and tea bags: Coffee grounds, tea bags, loose tea, take out cups, bamboo ware, paper lids, wax paper wrappers, coffee sleeves.

Paper: milk cartons, paper bags, paper boxes, cereal and pizza boxes, paper towels, cardboard, newspapers, flyers and magazines.

Leaves, gardens and trimmings: Grass clippings, sticks, flowers, bulbs, seeds, weeds.

Always remember that metals, plastic, and glass cannot be composted. 

Keep products like metal cans, metal containers and lids, plastic cutlery and lids, cling wraps, glass products, styrofoam, and aluminum foils away from composting bins. 

You can use local recycling stations to discard materials not suitable for composting.

While this activity helps divert the organic waste from ending up in landfills, the compost generated, also known as Black Gold, has various benefits. It helps soil retain more water, reduces soil erosion, increases carbon sequestration, reduces landfill waste, and makes soil less dependent on synthetic fertilizers.

Below is a map where you can find the 22 composting bins across all buildings on campus. The compost generated by processing the waste collected at the university is partially utilized to keep the biodiversity on campus healthy and enriched. 

Source: Brady Wilson

Brady further suggested that there should be more visible directions for the composting bins to raise awareness and encourage fellow students to discard waste appropriately. 

Apart from this, you can set up a small scale composting facility at home as well. All you need is an old container with a lid, perhaps an old garbage bin, and choose a location which receives ample sunlight as the compost mixture is activated by the heat. There should be a 50/50 ratio of green/ wet items and don’t miss mixing the pile on a weekly basis to get good results. You can use this compost to keep your houseplants or garden healthy.

Let us all be conscious about our actions and strive to live a sustainable life.

Source: Derian Guadarrama