Composting returns to campus

In line with NAU’s pledge to become a carbon neutral campus by 2020 comes a new program, or rather, a recycled program—composting.

In a collaboration between Dining Services, the Office of Sustainability and Students for Sustainable Living and Urban Gardening, also known as SSLUG, composting is being implemented at South Dining.

Unlike the old composting program, closed in 2003 because of costs and inadequate equipment, student volunteers run this smaller operation.

“This new composting program has a zero dollar operating budget. Students have volunteered to move the organic waste between the kitchen and the SSLUG garden,” said Richard Baron, director of sustainability. “It’s a great practical learning experience where students can literally get their hands dirty.”

The project focuses on pre-consumer waste with the goal of reducing the amount of food waste sent to the landfill. It also reduces the environmental cost of transporting the waste and creates quality soil additions for the SSLUG garden.

If the program succeeds, Ian Dixon-McDonald, SSLUG coordinator, hopes “the compost created can be used not only in the garden, but all around campus in flowerbeds, landscapes, etc.”

Robert Chavez, director of environmental health and safety, said the composting program is a positive step toward campus sustainability.

“Composting on campus shows great support with respect to the institution’s commitment to sustainability,” Chavez said. “Any time we can reuse products and keep them out of the waste stream, we are making great strides.”