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Skidmore College

Skidmore Compost

Fall 2020 Update:

Our student-run residential compost program for Sussman and Northwoods Apartments is in operation this Fall with new safety precautions in place. Our managers will distribute compost buckets to all apartments by September 6th. Compostable bags to line these buckets are found in a wall-pocket in the laundry rooms of every apartment building. See below for tips on what is compostable in our on-campus system. Please send any further questions to

On Friday’s our managers host work parties to collect, shovel, and turn food waste into rich compost. These work parties will begin on Friday, September 11th. To ensure the safety of our managers and campus community, we are limiting the number of volunteers per work party. Please email to RSVP to an upcoming work party by 5 pm the Thursday before the work party. Volunteers will receive a confirmation email and information on where to meet the managers. We will provide gloves and sanitizer to all volunteers.


Skidmore Compost is a student-run composting program that services the Northwoods and Sussman apartment villages. With more than 600 students living in these villages, we are able to divert a large amount of food waste from the landfill. Since 2011, the program has diverted over 100,000 pounds of food waste from landfills while preventing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The compost created by the program is donated to the Skidmore Community Garden, where it is used to enrich soils and promote the growth of healthy, fresh, organic vegetables.

Get Involved

Students living in the Northwoods and Sussman Apartment Villages may participate in the student-run Skidmore Compost program. Each apartment receives a small apartment compost bin at the beginning of every school year to collect food scraps. Paper bin liners are also available in apartment laundry rooms to keep bins clean. Food scraps may be dropped in the blue compost bins outside of every building. Student managers and volunteers will pick-up food waste each week. The compost generated by this program is used at the Skidmore Community Garden. A full list of acceptable and non-acceptable items can be found below. If you are missing an apartment bin or have questions, please contact the program managers at

Acceptable Apartment Compost Material

History of Skidmore Compost


The campus composting program started as a student capstone project. Students explored the economic and environmental costs and benefits of a comprehensive, institutional composting system. The project proposed that the the system would collect and compost food scraps, lawn-maintenance byproducts and horse manure from the Skidmore stables. The promising project was later adopted by students. Together, they wrote a proposal for a pilot program in the Northwoods Village Apartments. After receiving approval, the student leadership team and the Environmental Action Club (EAC) adopted the project and began collecting compost in the spring of 2011.


The first semester of the Skidmore Compost collection was successful, but students knew improvements could be made. Using feedback from apartment residents, student volunteers made several improvements to the compost program. Students gave residents new buckets, offered more educational opportunities about proper composting practices and made changes to make the program more efficient. Once again, students surveyed the Northwoods residents to analyze the effectiveness of the program.


The 2012–13 academic year brought many improvements to the Skidmore Compost Program. For the first time, Sustainable Skidmore hired two student compost managers. There was a significant increase in student volunteerism and general awareness of the Skidmore Compost Program with the new student leadership, allowing the program to expand its reach on campus and make improvements to the program. Students began collecting compost from apartments with bicycles and trailers, reducing our dependence on fossil-fueled vehicles. The group also partnered with Skidmore Dining Services and began collecting coffee grounds from the dining hall and all three campus cafés.


Skidmore Compost continues to expand. A new biodegradable bag program is being used within the Northwoods apartments, helping improve the cleanliness of the program for apartment residents. We are also moving beyond simply servicing the Northwoods Village. Now, Skidmore Compost offers educational events that teach students how to reduce the amount of waste they create. Although it is important to compost food waste, it is more important to find ways to minimize waste in general. Skidmore Compost has offered food preparation workshops that show how to properly cut vegetables so that edible parts are not wasted, and how to properly store foods so they last longer.


After many years of planning, Skidmore Compost expanded its operation to a larger-scale composting program at a property about 1-mile from campus. The new larger-scale program composts horse manure from our stables, lands and ground debris, and coffee grounds from all of our on-campus dining locations. The compost created at this site is used on landscaped beds across campus to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel-based fertilizers. Students are trained to operate the tractor that we use manage the material that is delivered to the site and turn our windrows.  Our on-campus compost program continues to manage food waste from our apartment villages.


In 2017, Skidmore launched a pilot composting program in the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall to divert food scraps and surplus food (that cannot be donated to our local community) from entering the waste stream. After a successful pilot program, we implemented a permanent program in the summer of 2018. We are currently composting around 10,000 pounds of food scraps each month thanks to a partnership with Natural Upcycling. Skidmore continues to donate thousands of pounds of surplus food each year to several local organizations thanks to the efforts of Feedmore, a student club, and Dining Services.