Start composting for yourself in order to give back to the earth

By Victoria Gill

Opinion Editor

The world is entering a state of a protest encouraged lifestyle changes in order to reverse the effects of climate change or sustain the conditions the environment is in right now in hopes of later change.

Everyone must do their part. One way to reduce your own carbon footprint is to compost. Especially on a campus with a lively environmentally-friendly voice, this is a great way for students to independently impact the world in a positive manner.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency website, “compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. Food scraps and yard waste together currently make up about 30% of what we throw away, and should be composted instead.”

This sustainability practice removes a large portion of food waste from entering landfills. When this happens, it is normally covered by other waste, therefore cutting it off from oxygen and allowing fermentation by anaerobic bacteria — a bacteria that lives and grows without oxygen present, and by producing enzymes, sometimes releases potent toxins. These toxins came from methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Adrian Higgins said in a 2018 Washington Post article that “compost contains a galaxy of beneficial bacteria and fungi. Once in the soil, these microbes make plants healthier and more vigorous, trees among them. Achieving all this while you’re keeping yard waste on your site is an obvious plus.”

If you are a college student looking for a way to save the world just a little bit, it is easy to compost on the Washington College campus. There is a composting assembly located in the campus garden that students can go to dump their waste in. It is manually turned so oxygen flows throughout the pile.

According to Doug Kurtz, vice president of the Student Environmental Alliance, the dining hall, several businesses in Chestertown, and students are allowed to add to the compost pile.

“From there, it gets distributed to a tiered composting system in the garden. If you’d like to help out, consider joining the Garden Club,” he said.

Luckily, composting is not as daunting as it seems to get started. You just need some food scraps and the microbes will do all the work.

Kurtz suggests that at home, you can build a box out of wood or make a pile in your garden. It’s important to turn the pile frequently to incorporate air. You can cover the pile with a tarp to ensure it gets hot enough — for the microbial activity — to break down the food scraps. You can also compost inside by simply placing your food scraps in a Tupperware or brown paper bag and keeping it in the freezer. You can keep it frozen until you’re ready to take it to the campus garden.

“Composting, and all environmental initiatives in general, can use as much support and publicity as they can get in order for the college to see them as issues students value and want resources to go toward. So raise your voice and reach out,” Kurtz said.

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