A better yOU: Composting

By Katie Rose

What comes to mind when you think of being eco-friendly? Do you think of recycling? Or maybe you think about renewable energy sources? Those are great ways to become more eco friendly. But, what about composting?  Most often we forget that we can reduce waste by composting too.

What is composting? Composting is the breaking down of organic materials by microorganisms into compost, which can be used as fertilizer. Organic materials include leaves, grass clippings, food scraps, coffee grounds, pencil shavings, tea bags, etc. Avoid using bones, oil, grease, meats, and dairy products.

Why should I compost?  Food scraps and yard clippings make up about 25% of the items that make it to the landfill. You may be thinking that these materials are still going to be broken down at the landfill, so what’s the point of composting? While the organic materials are still biodegradable, they do not have the oxygen required for proper decomposition in the landfill. This causes them to emit methane, which is a greenhouse gas. By composting your organic materials you are essentially reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. For every one ton of organic matter we save from going to the landfill, we are preventing 1/3 of a ton of greenhouse gas emissions. Harvard University is an example of a school that has been using composting to enhance their sustainability efforts and has recovered tons of organic wastes.

How can I compost? Now that you’ve heard all about how great composting is for the environment, let’s give it a try! Since Oakland University has been struggling to make this a continuous effort, you would have to do this yourself. But don’t worry! It’s not hard! You can either purchase an apartment/dorm style composting bin or you can make your own. Once you have your bin, you can start to create your compost. Make sure you add equal parts of green (nitrogen-rich materials) and brown (carbon-rich materials). Nitrogen-rich materials include vegetable peels, grass clippings, garden waste, oats, etc. Carbon-rich materials include leaves, coffee grounds, newspaper, tree bark, fruit scraps, eggshells, etc. Once you have created the compost, you can bring it home and use it in your own garden or you can bring it the to Student Organic Farmers on campus to use! Go give it a try!

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this is how you can make your own indoor composting bin:

1. Drill 1/2-inch diameter holes in the bottom and sides of a plastic garbage can.

2. Place a brick in the bottom of a larger garbage can, surround the brick with a layer of wood chips or soil, and place the smaller can inside on top of the brick.

3. Wrap insulation around the outer can to keep the compost warm and cover the cans with a lid.

Upcoming environmental health, and wellness events:

  • American Red Cross Club General Meeting, November 3rd, 12:00pm – 1:00pm, Oakland Center Room 127
  • Benefits and Wellness Fair, November 4th, 9:00am – 3:00pm, Rec Center 3-Court Gym
  • Leaders for Environmental Awareness and Protection General Meeting, November 6th, 12:00pm – 1:00pm, Lake Superior A Room in the Oakland Center
  • Leaders for Environmental Awareness and Protection, November 7th, 9:00am – 12:00pm, Belle Isle Park clean-up, Detroit
  • S.O.P.E Organic Dinner, November 13th, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, 4000s Apartment Lounge
  • Greening of Detroit Beaconsfield Street Planting, November 14th, 9:00am – 1:00pm, Corner of Beaconsfield and Haverhill, Detroit
  • Student Organic Farmers Monthly Meeting, November 17th, 12:00pm – 1:00pm, Room 126 in the Oakland Center
  • Student Congress Thrift 2 Gift, December 4th, 10:00am – 4:00pm, Gold Rooms ABC in the Oakland Center