Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Prentiss compost program thrives; reduces waste

by Aisha Fukushima

Entering the hustle and bustle of Prentiss Dining Hall it is easy to get caught up eagerly peering over the shoulder of the person in front of you, searching for what may beckon your palate from the steaming trays of food that seem to peer back at you from behind the glistening cough guards. But something that happens behind the scenes can be even more interesting.

Notice the cooks preparing food just behind the servers: making their way through the food groups by slicing, dicing and chopping. Little do many students know that even the food scraps they do not eat, byproducts of the kitchen’s preparation of the fruits and vegetables, are put to good use. In fact these organic odds and ends find a new home behind the Outhouse to be made into compost after being mixed with other composting materials.

This is done with the helping hands of volunteers who, each day, take the heavy buckets into the backyard composting receptacle as part of this small, yet crucial environmental program on campus. This program is also strongly supported by the Prentiss staff who help fill the buckets that the volunteers transport.

Kate Greenberg, a student who became involved because she was fed up with the wasted food on campus, remarked “I really like volunteering with composting because I feel I’m doing something, if small, to help in reducing some of the waste that Whitman and the dining halls produce”. The Prentiss composting symbolizes a microcosm of heightened environmental awareness on campus. Greenberg also noted “There’s just something about really being connected to what you eat and feeling good about it that makes the process of eating so much more enjoyable.”

According to Karlis Rokpelnis, a resident of the Outhouse who currently runs the program, “Last semester [alone] about 4000 gallons of waste were turned into nutritious compost . . . that’s a lot of happy spinach.”

Greenberg commented on the process of making the compost saying: “It is fun turning soil, returning week after week to see how quickly decomposition takes place and how the ‘junk’ food scraps you brought over soon turn into rock soil.”

A hopeful next step for the composting program is to have a composting system as sophisticated as the state penitentiary nearby. At the prison, food of all types – processed and non-processed alike – are composted and sold to local community members.

Entering its third semester on campus, the Prentiss Dining Hall composting program is thriving – much like the organic garden after reaping the benefits of the rich composting results. by Aisha Fukushima

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