August 6, 2008

Students, Faculty, and Administrators Collaborate on Composting Initiative

Project aims to reduce Lafayette’s carbon footprint and support the local community

Students, faculty, and administrators are collaborating on a campus-wide, multidisciplinary composting initiative in an effort to make efficient, environmentally-friendly use of the College’s waste.

Students from Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection (LEAP) and Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (SEES) are performing research and working to acquire funding needed for equipment and composting systems. They are joined by volunteers spanning all academic and administrative departments.

“This is a community based project with an academic focus driven by student volunteers from across many disciplines,” says Art Kney, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. “Various aspects of this project span economics, biology, chemistry, and engineering to name a few.”

The goals for the project are to compost all of the food waste generated by Lafayette Dining Services, as well as to educate the campus and surrounding local community about composting and the importance of gardening, especially in the midst of rising food prices. Dining Services has already gone to great lengths to eliminate non-compostible containers and utensils from its selections. Finished compost will also be given to community gardens and individual gardeners as part of the West Ward Urban Ecology Project.

“Because Lafayette is a small college, it is very possible to compost all of the food waste produced here,” says Kney. “We are hoping to receive grant money to purchase two Earth Tub composting units, which would compost just about all of our food waste from the dining halls on campus.”

Students involved with the project include civil engineering majors Mickey Adelman ’10 (Clarks Summit, Pa.) and Daniella Colon ’10 (Bronx, N.Y) and geology majors Bryan McAtee ’11 (Round Hill, Va.), and Jennifer Bell ’11 (Purcellville, Va.). Bell, who took the lead of the project this year, is working as an EXCEL scholar under Kney’s direction.

“Over the summer I am perfecting the tumbler to make it more user-friendly,” Bell explains. “We will then have a workshop day in the fall where we will sell our tumblers to professors, staff, and administration. We hope to educate people on the importance of composting and give them a means to do it themselves. The tumbler is the perfect size for residential use and fall is the best time to sell them because of the abundance of grass and leaves.”

posted in Academic News, Collaborative, High-Impact Learning, Faculty and Staff, News and Features, Students

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