Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

New Composting Program Faces Challenges

Photo Credit: Klag

When sophomores Hannah Siano and Zoey Rogers first arrived to campus last year, they noticed that something was conspicuously missing in their residence hall: a composting program. Just one year later, though their composting idea still has some challenges to overcome, Siano and Rogers have introduced the program to the class of 2014.

“Last year there was no green orientation,” said Siano. “We wanted to start this because it’s important for each new wave of first-years to get educated on environmental issues.”

At green orientation, first-years went to an introductory lecture about several environmental concerns on campus: water conservation, energy conservation, recycling and the new composting project.

“Composting is such an easy thing to do,” said Rogers. “It’s like recycling or turning off the lights to conserve energy.”

Though Rogers and Siano are excited about its potential, junior Philip Hofius, who works with the Whitman Organic Garden, still has questions about the program.

“I’m unsure about how this compost will get used,” he said.

Nevertheless Hofius acknowledges the importance of educating people about composting.

“It’s important to provide people with the knowledge of what their waste can do,” he said. “I just think this program will eventually need a larger purpose.”

Bob Biles, one of Whitman’s landscaping specialists, also wonders if the amount of compost generated will have much use.

“I’m not saying it’s not worthwhile,” he said. “The educational component is great. I just don’t see any economic benefit. Considering the amount of time and energy people will put into the project, I’m not sure the amount of compost generated will be worth it.”

Senior Ari Frink, campus sustainability coordinator, is aware of the difficulties surrounding the program.

“I think it’s going to be important to focus on finding ways to sustain the program in the long run. We need to find out where the compost is going.”

Siano and Rogers say that the biggest problem they face is that Walla Walla has no composting facility.

“We’re going to start by getting tumblers,” Rogers said. She hopes that a successful campus composting program may be an incentive to get a larger composting facility in Walla Walla.

These 50-pound tumblers will be placed outside of Anderson and Jewett halls so that they will be easily accessible for first-year students. Each residence hall section will also have a “green leader,” a student trained to help facilitate the composting program.

Siano and Rogers want to make sure that the green leaders and sections understand the program completely before installing the tumblers, so they are allowing the green leaders to hold study breaks in each hall to answer questions about the program. These study breaks should be completed by Wednesday, Sept. 22. Next the tumblers will be installed.

Rogers and Siano hope that having green leaders in each section will help institutionalize the project.

“Often new projects like this disappear when certain students graduate,” said Siano. “But if RAs expect to have a green leader in each section every year, composting can stay.”

They hope that this direct education approach will prove effective.

“It’s easy to forget that everyone comes to Whitman with different backgrounds, but they do,” said Siano. “Some students are much more green-conscious than others. By using green leaders, we hope to make environmental issues important to all students. We’re making it more personal.”

Frink believes that green leaders are one of the best parts of the program.

“It’s great to have point persons in the dorms to keep students dedicated and willing to make environmentally-friendly decisions,” he said.   “If the duties of being a green leader are imbued with passion and knowledge of making a difference, then I think the program will be a success.”

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