When the Harvard Class of 2018 arrives on campus this fall, Harvard Yard will be a shade greener. Marking another great stride in sustainability, the College and the Freshman Dean's Office, in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Green Program, is implementing composting in all freshman dormitories.

The desire for residential composting in freshman dorms was sparked last year by Green '17, a group of passionate and sustainability-minded members of the Class of 2017. The group, led by Cliff Goertemiller, College '17, ran a successful composting pilot last spring in Greenough and Mower Halls, which included these dedicated students personally transporting the compost from the dorms to the dining halls three times a week. The expanded program is scaled to serve the nearly 1,800 residents of the Yard community, and seeks to use the Yard as a model space for successful sustainability initiatives.

"One of the reasons this program is so exciting to me, is because it is a uniquely collaborative effort between a wide range of people to support a student-led initiative. We are able to complete such a large scale project only with the support and counsel of many departments and leaders on campus. Additionally, educating our students and staff about compost is an incredible opportunity to grow as a campus committed to sustainability," says Kelsey Grab, Residential Coordinator for the Resource Efficiency Program and Green Teen Program Advisor.

Green '17 group ran a succesful composting pilot in the yard in the spring of 2014Green '17 group ran a succesful composting pilot in the yard in the spring of 2014

Goertemiller and his Green ’17 peers continue to drive the program, and have drawn strong partnerships with the FAS Office of Physical Resources and Planning, Harvard Recycling, and the Freshman Dean’s Office to make this initiative a success. Before students arrive on campus the project team will deploy over 600 compost barrels and individually-sized bins to reside alongside their recycling and trash counterparts.

"Although we are one of the first campuses to have residential composting programs, we are not the only ones who see that compost is necessary. Compost will cut back on our need for landfill space, save money, and divert waste in a positive way. On campus, our compost is brought to a local farm that produces some of Harvard's food and is also used as fertilizer for our soil. The closed loop is not only sustainable, but incredibly beneficial to our community," says Grab.

Before freshman are greeted by their new green composting bins they will have the opportunity to take a five-minute crash course in sustainability at Harvard called Green Edu. Green Edu, a tool developed by the Undergraduate Resource Efficiency Program and the Office for Sustainability, educates and quizzes incoming students not only on composting and Harvard's waste stream, but also on important sustainable dorm-living behaviors, including reducing hot water use and minimizing food waste.

Here's how to compost in your room:

  • Line the compost bin with a provided Biobag.
  • Discard organic waste in the bin to keep it out of the landfill (see items listed on bin).
  • Bring Compost from your suite to the compost bin located in the trash room.
  • Obtain another Biobag bin liner from the trash room.

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