How to Actually Compost at Harvard

By Matthew W DeShaw

Maybe you see the signs around dhalls about leaving food on your tray to be properly sorted or maybe you’ve seen the occasional composting bin around your House that made composting cross your mind. But with landfills contributing to climate change, what are some actionable ways to actually compost and reduce food waste on campus? Flyby has got you covered with some tips.

What to Compost

Confused about what you can and can’t compost? Harvard has a convenient poster highlighting some common items around campus that can and should be composted. Items include food scraps (like the HUDS meal you didn’t finish), used compostable containers and utensils (like the Ecocontainer dhall cups), and tea bags and coffee grounds. Keep in mind that you should remove the non-compostable components of what you hope to compost; take the staples out of tea bags and food stickers off of the fruit.

Where You Can Compost

So, where can you even compost around Harvard? If you’re in the Yard, odds are that you have a composting bin in your room, or at least can get one! Make sure to line the bin with a compostable “Biobag” from the trash room and use it. In upperclassmen Houses, there are composting bins in the dhalls, and it’s always possible to get in contact with your Sustainability Representative (REP) and Building Manager to find out how to live more sustainably in your House or Dorm. If you’re in the Science Center, there are compost bins near Clover.

Composting Tips

While it may be annoying to have to carry around an apple core until you come across a composting bin, it’s a small inconvenience for the goal of reducing overall waste. Think twice before you throw away items. Is what you’re about to trash compostable? If so, how can you make sure to compost it? If not, are there alternatives that you can choose in the future that would reduce waste? For instance, although your coffee cup may not be compostable, using a mug the next time you get coffee would be the best way to reduce unnecessary waste and cut out the need for composting. Skip the plastic bag the next time you go to FlyBy and avoid unnecessary packaging when possible. Educate yourself on composting protocol and make sure to follow through.

Other Ways Harvard Composts

According to Harvard’s Sustainability website, Campus Services works with the Arnold Arboretum to compost a lot of waste that’s generated through landscaping. This waste is then used as soil amendments and mulch.

While composting may not be at the forefront of your mind, taking a few moments each day to be more mindful about what you throw away can have an impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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