Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Start composting for spring

MosaicCampus LifeStart composting for spring
Courtesy of Trevor Wade
Get more environmentally friendly this spring with your very own composting set-up.

Staff Reporter

According to the Food and Drug Administration, Americans produce about 188 billion pounds of food waste per year. This accounts for 30-40% of all food in America. Whether the waste comes from poor management, bad infrastructure or a lack of proper planning from a consumer standpoint, it’s important that consumers limit their waste output on a personal level. 

Many Americans make the mistake of buying food for the week only to let that same food spoil before it can ever be used. Even the foods we do end up eating can create major waste, and inedible pieces of food like banana peels and apple cores end up in landfills.

Rather than letting spoiled food or byproducts go to waste, composting is a perfect solution. Composting creates an environment in which solid food waste is naturally broken down by microorganism into a product that can be safely applied to the environment.

Compost can be applied to already present soils in order to create a rich environment for plants and bugs to live. Composting is especially great for gardeners and because spring is right around the corner, now is a great time to start. 

Composting is relatively simple. All you need is a storage container, food waste and a place to dump your compost. You can use any available container like a coffee grounds container or a bucket, although something with a lid is best since compost isn’t appealing to look at or smell.

Almost anything that is edible or comes from plants can be composted, so foods like fruits, vegetables, bread, grains, coffee grounds or filters, bread, egg shells, unbleached paper napkins and newspapers. On the other hand, anything that can’t be grown can’t be composted: meat, fish, fats (lard), grease, oils, diseased plants and pet droppings.

All of the compostable products people consume can be placed into containers to decompose. These containers can be stored anywhere, and once they’re full, they just need to be emptied out into the soil in your backyard. 

Compost should be completely broken down by microorganisms before it’s ready to be fully incorporated into soil. You can do this by digging a small hole in the ground and creating a compost mound in it — this will help insects and worms break it down. You can also use something like a trashcan to store the compost in. 

The compost will need to be turned occasionally and is ready to be used once it reaches a dark brown color and no longer smells like rotting vegetables. 

More information on how to properly compost can be found on the website for the Plant Natural Research Center

Composting might not seem like a viable option if you live in an apartment or don’t have a yard, but there are many companies that provide pick up and drop off services for compost. The website Litterles has a state-by-state directory of entities. There are currently no pick up companies in Delaware, but there are several in nearby cities in both Pennsylvania and Maryland. 

For a monthly fee, many of these companies provide compost bins and collect them for you, making the process even easier.

Using compost tumblers serves as another way to compost without a yard. These tumblers are quick, efficient and eliminate the problem of pests. They are best used in an outdoor setting, so if you have a patio, this could be an option for you and can be used to fertilize patio plants/indoor plants. 

More information on what type of composting style is right for you can be found at Eartheasy.

Composting is a great way to reduce waste and nourish the environment. It’s estimated to reduce the amount of trash in landfills by 30% and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. It’s even adaptable to any lifestyle.

Composting not only has great benefits for the environment, but it also reduces waste and the usage of pollutants. It’s a great alternative that can only benefit the environment, making it a convenient way for everyone to reduce their waste output today. 




  1. Has the university considered implementing its own free composting service as part of its sustainability initiative? Seems like a lot to ask of college students to pay for a waste removal service or rodent-proof bins when the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources has a major in sustainable food systems and could potentially rope this into their program, in cooperation with dining halls and waste management. The compost could be returned directly to campus gardens and greenhouses. An individualized approach, while a move in a positive direction, is a short-term solution for an institution-wide issue.

    Looks like there is an existing student report on estimated feasibility of such a program from 2009, with an interview from a master gardener from UD’s Cooperative Extension:

  2. FOR Solutions offers state-of-the-art, value engineered aerobic in-vessel rotary drum composting systems that are perfect for college/university campuses. Our Model 1000 Composting System is on the campuses of Kean University and Princeton University.


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