What is Sustain Champlain?

Sustain Champlain is a campus-wide initiative strives to infuse sustainability concepts and practices across Champlain College by coordinating and promoting best practices within four areas: our institution, academics, operations, and culture.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Going Mindful- Part 2: The Joy of Composting!


Are you ready for part 2 Beavers? Ah, the joys of composting! I first learned about it when I went to the White Mountain School. We had a much more “hands on” experience than ya’ll do here. Here we just throw our waste into an unseen trash bin and walk away. During high school we had to separate out everything in green buckets (we couldn’t compost meat, dairy, etc, like we can here), lug those buckets to a compost “heap” by the school garden (even in the winter!), and members of farm and forest would have to turn the heap with shovels and pitchforks. It was kind of gross. But composting is a really helpful and natural process, and it definitely won’t be as intense if you’re just composting for yourself and a few roommates. The process not only cuts down on waste going into trash bins, but it also is helpful for gardens. Compost is used to improve soil quality and is a more natural alternative to buying Miracle Grow.

Composting in an apartment or dorm room doesn’t have to be as unsavory as an open pile on a farm. The first thing you need to do is figure out what you want to use your compost for. Do you want to use it for your container garden, or do you want to compost to help cut down on waste in the trash area? I’ll first start with how to compost. What you’ll want to do is buy an indoor compost container, which will keep the smell down. You can purchase outdoor compost containers that are sealed, but sometimes cities have rules against this. Some are more high tech than others and it really depends on how much you want to spend. You might want to consider buying two so once one is full you can start on another one while the first one is still “processing.” Now you just have to fill the thing! To make your compost even more efficient you should be adding dead leaves and vegetation, which are nitrogen rich and will help the waste compost faster. For every two or three inches of foods/scraps add a half inch of dead leaves.

You can put a lot of things into a compost heap. Orange peels, left over broccoli, soil napkins, pasta, eggshells, liquids (the second container down has a drain), non glossy paper (just make sure to shred it), and coffee grinds, to name a few. Now, I promised to tell you how you can have sex and save the environment. Instead of leaving that condom floating in the toilet bowl, put it in your compost! Latex condoms will break down, but it might be a good idea to bury it….Here is a list of 75 other interesting things that can be composted. At the school you can put meat and dairy in a compost bin, but it’s not advised for small setups. Piles work because they get hot and the temperature, bacteria, and small animals (in outdoor bins) help break down the waste. An indoor compost bin will not get hot enough to break down these items. Avoid putting butter and others fats in. A healthy compost pile should have minimal odor, and if it’s stanky add more leaves. You’ll start this and end with this. With diligence this should take between one or two months. Larger compost bins can take up to six months.

If you’re not using your lovely compost in your garden then you can take it to the Intervale Compost Product Center in Burlington, Vermont and then they’ll gladly take it for you. You can also purchase organic compost from them! But if you’ve spent all this time taking a steaming pile gunk to a lovely pile of nutrient rich dirt, don’t you want to use it? You can dig a few inches into the soil that’s already there and add the compost. Composting is an extremely natural action. You’re growing food, eating food, saving the scraps, and returning them to the earth. No, it’s not the prettiest thing ever, and it may smell a little, but since I’ve been in college I’ve seen things more horrifying and smelled things extremely rank.

Keep On Being Mindful!

No comments: