Every Sunday morning, composting interns Sammy Jolly ’15, Dylan Polcyn ’16 and student volunteers drive around Kalamazoo to collect off-campus student’s composting buckets.
“It’s kind of like the milk man really,” said Polcyn. “You pack your car full of empty buckets and you go out and you run and you go to each house in your route and switch out the buckets like the milkman and then drive your car home back to the grove.”
Four years ago when composting began on campus, living learning houses and off campus housing were the only areas that participated. Although the program has expanded to include cafeteria compost, the compost interns continue to collect off-campus housing compost from over 20 locations.
“Everyone should be able to compost, and if every single person living off campus wanted to, then they should,” Polcyn said. “If everyone told us that they wanted to, then hell yeah, we would make it happen for them.”
The one requirement of students from off-campus housing is that they help out with the Sunday morning process when available, said Polcyn.
Brooke Travis ’17 and her housemates began composting this year when Alex Saxton ’17, sophomore composting intern, proposed the idea, said Travis.
“It’s so easy and I wish I would’ve taken initiative to do it beforehand,” said Travis. “All you need is a bin and two seconds to sort your trash. So I definitely think I will continue in the future.”
Although the idea of fruits and vegetables decomposing in the home often turns people off to the idea of at home composting, Polcyn said that it really isn’t a dirty process.
“A lot of students think it’s a smelly dirty process and it is when you have a pile, but when you just have a bucket in your home, it’s so easy and not really a big deal.”
Josefina Cibelli ’16 said that composting has helped to alleviate some of the trash her and her housemates produce.
“Being off campus we all don’t have meal plans, so the first few weeks that we were living there we were producing a lot of trash,” Cibelli said. “So, when we had the opportunity to do it we signed up right away, just because we still wanted to be apart of the compost here on campus and everything.”
Following Cibelli’s return from study abroad, she said that composting allowed her an outlet to feel involved in the campus community again while living off campus.
“You feel so disconnected from campus culture, campus contributions even from StuOrgs,” said Cibelli. “So it just feels nice to be involved in some way, for something that’s positive. “
After students have the opportunity to participate in off campus composting, Polcyn said he hopes they continue composting after they graduate.
“It’s a gateway for them so that when they leave college they can be like, ‘Yeah I’ve composted before, I’ve been apart of the program, and maybe I can take this with me when I leave Kalamazoo.’”