HWS Students Tackle Waste – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

HWS Students Tackle Waste

Senior Integrative Experience class implements student-run composting program

(January 21, 2004) GENEVA, N.Y. — As part of a pilot study on the feasibility of composting campus food waste, students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges have implemented a new, student-run foodscrap composting program on campus. The project was undertaken as part of Group Senior Integrative Experience (SIE), a capstone course for environmental studies majors at the Colleges led by Professor Leah Joseph.

“This project is an important step in the ongoing effort of many groups toward campus greening and community-wide environmental responsibility,” said Joseph.

Composting is a natural process that decomposes organic material, such as leaves and food, with the assistance of microorganisms that are normally present in soil. The class decided to focus on composting in an effort to reduce the amount of waste deposited by the Colleges into the local landfill.

Students studied various versions of composting systems and designed one that best suits the available space, needs and resources. The wooden bins they constructed are a series of four, 5-foot cubes intended to collect 50 to 75 pounds of food waste per day, which is only a portion of the more than 25 tons of food waste generated on campus each year.

Financial support to build the system came from a variety of sources, including the Administrative Services office on campus and a grant from the Colleges' Environmental Research Fund, initiated by Dan '73 and Hannah '75 Ostrye. Local merchant 84 Lumber provided wood for the bins at a much-reduced price. In addition, many others donated their time, energies, and experience to this project.

This is the second class of students to investigate food-scrap composting at the Colleges. Research conducted by the first class laid the groundwork for the pilot project, which will continue this semester as science- and outreach-related independent study options for several students in the class. Long-term maintenance of the composting system will be done by volunteers, classes and, possibly, work-study students.

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Hi-res photo: http://campus.hws.edu/new/releases/HiRes/compostinggroup_hres.jpg