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CMU launches new composting project

University hires student to develop phase one of long-term sustainability plan

Justin Eisinga has worked with the CMU community to launch a new campus-wide composting program Justin Eisinga has worked with the CMU community to launch a new campus-wide composting program

On Earth Day 2020, CMU officially became Climate Smart certified. Involved in this certification was a commitment to strategize various initiatives in which CMU would reduce greenhouse gas emissions on campus and become a more environmentally sustainable community. CMU's newest initiative, a composting project headed by graduate student Justin Eisinga, constitutes the first steps toward reducing greenhouse gasses by lowering the amount of waste build-up in landfills that contribute to the rising release of methane into the atmosphere.

To realize this project, A Rocha and the CMU Centre for Resilience have partnered to hire Eisinga for the purpose of gathering CMU stakeholders—including the Metanoia Farmers Worker Cooperative (Metanoia Farmers), folio café, Food Services, faculty, staff, and others—to collectively participate in this project across campus. Eisinga expects that, though this is only the pilot phase of the project, CMU will have a fully functioning composting system in place by the middle of October 2020.

Eisinga comments that "food waste will be transported from collection bins situated in our campus dorms, folio café, cafeteria, student and staff lounges, and Blaurock Café, and will be dumped into a designated compost box placed outside of the Metanoia Farmers' plot. Student volunteers will collect and deliver the food waste from the bins to the box via bicycles custom built for this project. This is a collaborative cross-campus project that the community is doing for each other."

All composted material will be reused in a closed-loop economy as fertilizer for the Metanoia Farmers as well as in staff and student community gardens and in campus landscaping. Within this cycle, the produce grown in the gardens will be used to feed staff and students in the CMU Dining Hall and all of the waste from that food will return to be composted in three compost containers, the loop restarting when the output of that compost is used to grow produce again. In 2019,the amount of compost waste totalled 1,200 pounds monthly and seven tonnes annually. Due to current COVID-19 regulations on campus and the reduced number of meals prepared by Food Services, the amount of food and compost produced on campus this year will be less than last year's numbers.

Part of composting involves educating students and staff about when and what to compost. Eisinga explains that "Bins will be equipped with stickers that explain what can and cannot be composted." The goal of this project is to equip the community to be able to work together by learning together.

Following phase one, CMU's Advisory Committee of Sustainability—featuring staff, faculty, and student representatives—will continue to develop larger plans concerning land, resources, and renewability practices at the campus. Possible future phases include further integration of Metanoia Farmers Co-operative into the CMU community.

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