Enviro-nerd finds beauty, practicality in composting

By Steph Haynes, Columnist

Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012

 

The word “compost” can often make the average person immediately cringe at the thought of rotting food scraps. 

The word may even be followed by other words such as “disgusting,” “smelly” or even — and perhaps the most feared by a compost enthusiast — “repulsive.”  

As an Eco-Rep at UVM, I will admit that I have had my fair share of difficulties with my own compost, like the time when I had a swarm of fruit flies living in my tiny MAT dorm room. And, this past summer when I had to scoop two-day-old coleslaw into the Cook compost dumpster with my bare hands. 

These were times when I may have used the above-mentioned words to describe compost. But despite its challenges and its smell, compost should not be feared.

It is a beautiful process. 

Soil grows our food and then our food scraps are formed back into soil that will be used to grow more food — a perfect closed circle. 

To an enviro-nerd like myself, compost is purely awesome. Mold is just as powerful as it is unsightly. I love to tell anyone that is interested, which I admit may be few, that in my own personal compost, I once saw an army of mold conquer a full-sized carrot and split it open to invade its insides. 

Despite its kick-ass properties and practical uses, many students still carry a negative connotation with the name “compost.” 

Erica Spiegel, an Eco-Reps program advisor and the UVM recycling and solid waste manager, suggested at our Eco-Rep orientation this past week that we should consider renaming compost “food recycling” in order for students to associate it with “recycling,” a word they will undoubtedly recognize and associate with positively.  

Whatever we call it, compost is here to stay. 

According to UVM’s recycling and waste management program, in an average week we divert about nine tons of food scraps from landfills. With new signage all over campus and increased promotion in resident halls, these numbers will only increase in the coming year.

Can’t you smell that smell? It’s the smell of change. 

Comments

Be the first to comment on this article!

Click here to leave a comment
View full site