Monica Foley, AUNE’s new solid waste coordinator, has big plans for the school’s composting program. For one thing, she wants to build a better compost pile in the campus garden.
The static pile isn’t turned but is ventilated by a perforated pipe underneath. Because the compost pile is constructed of wooden pallets, it’s difficult to lift the lid to add material, which Monica does daily.
She would also like the pile to generate more heat so it can break down materials that are difficult to compost, such as compostable cutlery and plates. More carbon from materials like leaves and wood chips would help. So would shredding those materials into smaller pieces.
To learn more, Monica, a master’s student in the Department of Environmental Studies’ science teacher certification program, will attend a workshop for compost operators held by Highfields Institute in Hardwick, Vermont, October 12. “I’m going to ask a lot of experts,” she said.
As another part of her work-study as solid waste coordinator, she, along with the Sustainability and Social Justice Committee, will enter AUNE in Recycle Mania, a recycling competition with other university campuses next February.
The daily round
Monica’s daily job is to empty each of the seven compost bins—stainless steel trash cans—found around campus, and the compostable-plate-only bin outside the Community Room. She weighs each bin, then takes the food waste out to the compost pile, cleans the bins and returns them. Tracking their use by weighing the compost, she’s found that the biggest days are Thursdays and Fridays, when the environmental studies students are on campus.
So another goal is education to make people more aware, because she wants everyone on campus using the compost bins. To make it easier, she’s added two new bins—one near the environmental studies office and one near the library.
Monica’s biggest request: Don’t put trash in the compost bins. Some things may appear to be compostable—plastic forks, for instance, look much like the compostable forks. Read the sign next to each bin to learn what’s acceptable.
Most important of all: “just use it,” Monica said. “And keep an eye out for changes and better things to come.”
Questions or suggestions? Contact Monica at [email protected]