Student Compost Program
Image: Sustainable spaces at Hiram
Elijah Skaggs ’21
“Composting helps reduce food waste by diverting it from an anaerobic system into and aerobic system. That means we not only see the benefits of fertile soil but we also see a cleaner atmosphere by preventing the food waste from producing methane, which is a very powerful greenhouse gas.”
During the fall semester of 2020, a student committee dedicated to developing ongoing sustainability efforts began an on-campus compost program. The students who proposed this initiative wanted to reduce waste that would otherwise end up in landfills and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Using 4x4x4-foot wooden boxes with foam insulation, students are able to convert food scraps collected from campus dining areas into compost. Over a three-month period, the boxes break down the contents, including food and paper waste, in an environment that reaches 140° F, resulting in an odorless and pathogen-free compost. Once the process is completed, the compost is used on the campus grounds, in college-managed gardens, and at the nearby James H. Barrow Biological Field Station.
The compost program has expanded to include additional sources. Garden waste from the Hiram Public Gardens and animal waste from the Field Station are now processed as well, further reducing the amount of waste going to the landfill.
From 2020-2023, over 20 tons of food waste and other organic material was collected. The fertile, biologically-rich compost produced from this program is used in the gardens at the Field Station and on campus.
I had not known much about composting when I came to Hiram last year, but since joining this committee and the compost team I’ve learned a lot about the effects of waste on our planet. It inspired me make changes and to try to invoke change in others. I hope that other students and even faculty can take this opportunity learn about the effects of composting and develop more positive attitudes toward it!Kearan Barnett ’24