OPINION: Compost On Campus

By Katie Russell, Contributor

A little known fact about Mason’s Fairfax campus is that composting is available on campus to students, faculty, staff and anyone who wants to compost. Composting is the process of turning food scraps, yard waste and paper products into a rich soil product. Rather than throwing away these products, composting prevents waste from going into landfills and releasing methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.

Mason has two locations where any student can bring their compostable materials. Compost piles are located at the Innovation Food Forest (near the Innovation Building) and a compost tumbler can be found in the Potomac Heights vegetable garden (behind Potomac Heights Residence Hall and the Aquatic and Fitness Center). These compost locations are clearly marked with signs and instructions so that you know exactly where to place your compostables.

Items good to compost at the locations on campus are all paper products including cardboard, coffee grounds, tea bags, plant debris, veggie or fruit scraps and non-oily leftovers of rice, pasta and bread. Please do not bring animal products, like meat, dairy or shellfish, as these will create a bad odor. When you bring your compostables to a compost site, please be sure to bring some sort of paper product or cardboard with you. This will help reduce the odor, by keeping a good ratio of Carbon (the paper products) to Nitrogen (the food/plant materials). It is actually better to compost paper products than recycle on campus because composting on campus requires no additional energy input while recycling does.

For more information about composting on campus, please visit the website for the George Mason Office of Sustainability and see the page How can I start composting on campus? or email gmuroosevelt@gmail.com.  

Katie Russell is a sophomore Environmental and Sustainability Studies Major and the Energy and Environment Policy Head for Roosevelt@Mason. In the fall of 2017 she interned with the Greenhouse and Gardens on Campus and became interested in composting, but currently interns at the US House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources and is the Vice President of the GMU Green Patriots, an environmental student organization.