By Jolee Keplinger

If composting and recycling aren’t part of your waste disposal infrastructure back home, now’s the perfect time to familiarize yourself.  

In 2015, Principia College took a major step toward achieving zero waste: Composting was integrated into the campus’ waste disposal infrastructure. This achievement was initiated by former student Heather Jackson (C’16) as part of her sustainability project. Now, food waste and disposable goods from Dining Services and the Pub can be diverted from the landfill. 

Student Eco-Heads, elected by their houses, are responsible for the compost and recycling in each house. Last year, composting was integrated into academic buildings and emptying it became a paid student position. Although this is great news, there is much room for improvement at the community level since waste is often placed in the wrong bins. 

So, why care where waste goes? Landfill waste is a major global issue. The world’s population continues to increase and produce more trash each year. Most don’t see where it goes, so they don’t realize it’s a problem. When landfilled, organic waste creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Reducing consumption, utilizing reusable products, and recycling and composting are vital, and can be implemented with slight lifestyle changes. 

On campus, students can help by responsibly recycling and composting. Recycling bins are located in nearly every building on campus, and compost bins can be found in dorms, academic buildings, and the Pub. Compost is collected by Total Organics Recycling, based in St. Louis. The waste is delivered to a facility and mixed into soil where it sits for a few months. Once the waste has decomposed it can be used as fertilizer for growing plants. Recycling is collected by Republic Services in St. Louis. Recycling is sorted at the plant, cleaned, compacted into giant cubes, and shipped off to become new products. The more that is recycled, the more energy and raw materials is saved. 

Next time you’re about to throw something away, pause for a moment and be sure your trash, compost, and recycling are all going to the proper place — this is an expression of  the Golden Rule and does the planet a favor by lessening your environmental impact.