As a college student, you are not usually living in a luxurious, solar-powered, eco-friendly dwelling. The majority of this population find themselves in small apartments or residences where it can be a challenge to be “green”. Chelsea Spinx, a full-time college student, says that “when you get to college, your ability to be ‘green’ becomes so limited. A person can usually find places to recycle your bottles and cans but that’s about it. Compost? There typically is no such thing. It’s just not possible.” This common misconception, that an apartment or dormitory dweller is unable to compost, is incorrect. Below are 10 steps to how any college student, no matter the living situation, can create their own compost:
1. Obtain something to place your compost in. This could be a metal or plastic box, storage bin, etc.
2. Punch or drill holes in the side of the compost bin.
3. Get a tarp or tray to be placed under the compost bin.
4. Determine the best location for your compost bin. It could be placed under the sink, in a closet, on a balcony, etc. Keep the size of the bin in mind along with the possibility that it will smell.
5. Obtain some soil or fertilizer. You will need to place a three-inch layer of soil into the box along with a handful of dry bedding. This can be leaves, newspaper (with no gloss or colored inks), straw, grass clippings, cardboard or nutshells.
6. Gain a better understanding of what can be composted. There are over 100 materials that can be composted. More common materials for college students may include: paper napkins/paper towels, coffee bags, lint, leaves, unpaid bills, coffee grounds, facial tissues, expired flower arrangements, stale bread, citrus wastes, outdated yogurt, dead insects, old beer, etc.
7. Shred or cut compostable material as finely as possible. This will help speed up the process.
8. Add equal parts of dry bedding to the compost heap.
9. Stir the compost weekly.
10. Add a handful of fresh soil twice a week to refresh microbe supply.
There are a few things that you might want to keep in mind, however. In the case that your newly created composter begins to emit odor or drip liquids, simply add more dry bedding. It is also suggested that you have a separate container for the new compost. This way, when your container begins to fill up, you can scoop out the fine, soil-like compost into a new box. From this point, it is ready to use. It’s as simple as that!