Trinity Knight (’19) is ahead of the curve with sustainability. She started composting last fall after becoming an R.A. and has not stopped. Knight oversees Oggel Apartments, which has a composting bucket under the kitchen sink. Knight says composting leaves kitchens smell- and-squirrel-free. Trash takeout is less frequent, and food is sealed tight. Even when Knight has to deal with oddities, like housemates pouring soup into the bucket, she says she thinks it’s worth it.
Physical Plant has made composting an option for five years, but there is increasing interest. Students are seeking out ways to be renewable, and R.A.s are making more compost bucket requests each week. “Maybe it’s just the people being more vocal on campus about going green and the different green organizations on campus being more visible,” she said. “I barely remember them when I was a freshman and sophomore.”
Knight mentioned that many people have showed interest but didn’t follow-up due to laziness or overlooking Physical Plant’s request form. R.A.s aren’t the only ones with important roles. Physical Plant takes charge before and after students deposit food waste. Kevin Meyering fulfills every bucket order, drops it off at the new residence and returns every Monday at 7 a.m. to collect the buckets. “We have a big compost pile on 15th street behind the warehouse, and then we collect our affluence there, dump the compost bins there, then we have a company come in and take the compost to an offsite location where it continues to compost,” Meyering said. Meyering said Physical Plant uses the composted material in gardening projects after it returns from the offsite location. This may come as a relief to students who have questions about where their compost goes. “We had eight cottages, and then we had 12, so as they move around or if they come from a society or a home that composts, they bring that with them,” said Bob Hunt, Meyering’s coworker. Meyering said there are 35 residences participating this semester with a weekly average of 85 percent actively composting.
“This year’s been really really good, better this year than years past for some reason,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s word of mouth.” “I don’t hear much from Hope Sustainability past, that one month where everyone is trying to be sustainable together,” said Abby Brummel (’20), an R.A. “I don’t think they even realized that it was an option we had,” she said about housemates she introduced to composting. Brummel highlighted the need for awareness of composting and ways it can be used. She suggested student- run produce gardens. Bob Hunt from Physical Plant offered his favorite quote in the hope that it will encourage students to continue their sustainable practices. “‘The future of the world is within 50 miles,’ so if we can manage our waste and manage to supply our needs or most of our needs, 70 percent of the needs for daily life within 50 miles, that’s gonna make the world a much more sustainable place,” Hunt said. That dream can become a reality if students like Abby Brummel and Trinity Knight keep spreading the word about what they are doing and what everyone can do to create a sustainable environment on campus and around the world.
Knight can now take her compost bucket outside for Monday morning collection and see many other buckets lining the street. She hopes that she will see more of those buckets lining every street on campus. While the Sustainability Standoff within dorms on campus has now ended, Knight hopes to continue seeing sustainability across campus.