Benefits of composting

In the U.S., about 30-40% of food supply is wasted every year, and it contributes to almost 20% of U.S. methane emissions that come from landfills. Some of this waste comes from early stages in the production process, but a significant amount of that waste comes from consumers themselves, so your choices can make a difference to fix this problem. One way to help is by composting! When you compost your food waste, you significantly reduce the methane emissions of that waste, and it works as an effective fertilizer. It helps soil retain more water, yield more crops, and it can even eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers altogether. 

Composting at Middlebury

Luckily, by eating at the dining halls on campus, you are already composting! Middlebury’s composting program is so effective and well-known that it is featured as a composting success story on the EPA’s website! When you put your dishes on the dining halls’ conveyor belt, you are sending your food scraps and your napkins off to be pulverized and composted, using horse manure and wood chips. The college composts using windrows, which are turned consistently to ensure they maintain a good temperature. After that, the compost is screened, and then it rests for up to a year before being used as fertilizer at the Knoll and the athletic fields. 

If you want to contribute more to Middlebury’s compost, you can put your personal food waste in the little green compost bins around your dorm. They are collected and added to the compost piles!

Sources

“America’s Food Waste Problem.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 2016, https://www.epa.gov/sciencematters/americas-food-waste-problem.

“Composting: Middlebury Offices and Services.” Middlebury, Middlebury College, 4 Oct. 2021, https://www.middlebury.edu/office/facilities-services/maintenance-and-operations/composting.

“Food Waste FAQs.” USDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, https://www.usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs.

“Open Unpaved Windrow Composting.” Compost Systems, https://www.compost-systems.com/en/solutions/open-unpaved-windrow-composting.

“Reducing the Impact of Wasted Food by Feeding the Soil and Composting.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/reducing-impact-wasted-food-feeding-soil-and-composting.