Facilities Services Picnic 2011: All-American Composting

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Americans throw away 96 billion pounds of food each year. Hold on. Before you read further, consider the sheer amount of food that is. With a population of just over 307 million, that means each American is putting almost 6 pounds of food into landfills every week. One particularly egregious offender in terms of waste is events, where disposable items like plates and flatware abound. The Facilities Services Annual Picnic, one such event, reduced its waste this year by introducing composting.


In previous years, Facilities Services (FS) had “gone green” and recycled cans and plastic at the event. This August, composting was the soup de jour at the event, along with some pulled pork and grilled items, of course. A total of seven bags of compost were collected at the event; meaning seven bags were made into fertilizers for soil instead of rotting and emitting carbon dioxide in a landfill. Plates, flatware, napkins, cups, and surplus food all made their way into compost bins—even the paper signs labeling the bins were composted! Aluminum cans and cardboard were recycled, thus the only items in the garbage were the ice cream wrappers and potato chip bags. Perhaps next year we can eliminate these items, implement large tubs of ice cream, and make the event zero-waste!


Looking back on the picnic, composting was a great success, though it was a bit of a challenging transition to make. Compost must be collected in compostable bags and all containers must have only compostable materials in them. There were six stations, each with one trash bin, one or more recycling bins, and one or more composting bins. Over 300 people attended this event, most of who were unfamiliar with composting, making it difficult to ensure everyone was properly disposing their picnic waste. Members of the Office of Sustainability actively helped Facilities staff to some extent, though future events would benefit from volunteers at each station to help direct people and separate refuse.

Many thanks to Carla Nelis, Administrative Manager of Facilities Services, as well as ORCSA, and the Grounds Crew, for making this composting possible on such short notice.

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This page contains a single entry by Christy Perera published on August 29, 2011 10:44 PM.

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