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 50,000 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.
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 move forward. 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 total 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 in your apartment.