CSU Zero Waste Team improves waste efforts, composting

Walker Discoe

A positive to living in Fort Collins is the many efforts to be green, including composting.

A compost bins inside the Academic Village Commons that the Zero Waste team manages. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

Colorado State University is one of the few institutions in Northern Colorado with their own composting facility, located at the University’s Foothills campus. CSU also has the Zero Waste Team, an organization dedicated to the proper disposal and treatment of recyclables, compost and trash around campus and at events.

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The team was formed after CSU expanded their compost facility in Spring 2017, adding a windrow composting system that can handle campus’ organic waste, wrote Maggie Gillman, human dimensions of natural resources senior and member of the Zero Waste Team, in an email.

“We started our work that summer, organizing compost collection at the new on-campus stadium,” Gillman wrote in an email. “After a successful fall football season, we continued as a motivated group of ‘waste weirdos’ and have since helped manage waste at a few basketball games, Engineering Days, Ram Welcome, Ag Day, and home football games this season. We also are working to increase public access composting in academic buildings.”

The Zero Waste Team, while also collecting and properly disposing of waste products, provides education to students at events on what is recyclable, what is garbage and what is compostable.

“[We] actively sort each bin to ensure each stream (compost, landfill, recycling) only contains the proper materials,” wrote the Zero Waste Team in an email. “We examine and rifle through each receptacle and place each and every material in the proper bin. We make sorting waste fun.”

No waste team member sorts through recycling bin to find compost.
During the Colorado State vs. Air Force game, junior Maggie Gilman sorts compost from recycling material in one of the bins at the football stadium on behalf of the zero waste team. (Brandon Mendoza| Collegian)

According to the Container Recycling Institute, Americans dispose of more than 60 million plastic water bottles every day, and “most end up in landfills or incinerators.” The Container Recycling Insitute also mentioned water bottles are only one of the thousands of disposable products Americans and the rest of the world uses, but the message of recycling is true for other products we use as well, such as Styrofoam takeout boxes, single-serving cups and utensils and technology products like cell phones and laptops.

The Zero Waste Tea advocates for both reducing waste created on campus and having students become more aware of the trash they leave behind.

“Use reusable cutlery, coffee mugs, Tupperware for food containers, and water bottles whenever possible. In cases where this is not possible, choose compostable food container options,” wrote The Zero Waste Team. “Keeping recycling streams reduced to the properly allowed materials makes an impactful difference. Students that live on campus can utilize the renewable container check out service which is in every dining hall across campus.”

Walker Discoe can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @wdiscoe.