Sustainable Community Development Initiative

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Niemeyer Composting Pilot

You may often hear that composting is good for the environment, but do you know the reasons why? In an effort to learn more about the ecological and personal benefits of composting, 50 Niemeyer residents have signed up to take part in a composting project, organized by SCDI campus sustainability manager Bart Bartels.  A composting bin has been placed outside of the Niemeyer Living Center in the garbage collection area. As the sign states, the bin is for “Everything but plastic, metal, and glass.” This includes all food waste, pizza boxes, paper, etc.


But why separate your waste; doesn’t it all decompose at the landfill anyways?


What you may not know about your biodegradable material is that when it combines with non-organic material in our landfills, harmful toxins are produced. These toxins seep into the ground (as approximately 75% of American landfills do not use plastic lining) and contaminate our water sources. On the other hand, the composting process known as “hot composting,” which GVSU is conducting, can break down the material in weeks vs. the decades it would take to decompose in a landfill. One of the benefits of using compost in our gardens and fields is that it cools the soil and alters the rate which water passes through it, slowing erosion. Composting also increases the soil’s pH by increasing nutrients, which help plants to thrive.


In addition to ecological benefits, composting also helps Grand Valley to be more sustainable. Compost collected from the Niemeyer project is processed and then used for fertilizer at the Sustainable Agriculture Project, which in turn yields produce that GVSU students can purchase at the Farmer’s Market. In this way Grand Valley students have an opportunity to contribute at every point in the cycle and not only gain understanding on the practice of composting, but also experience a richer perspective on life.


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