Orchard Hill Compost (Spring 2020)

Residential Life, in partnership with the Office of Waste Management, launched a residential composting pilot program in the Orchard Hill residential area.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting campus closure, our spring pilot was cut short. Unfortunately, given the ongoing pandemic and a major reduction in residential population this fall, we are not able to continue this semester. A special thanks to our student OHill Compost Ambassador team, whose hard work and enthusiasm were the backbone of this project. Stay tuned for updates regarding potential residential compost expansion and read on for information about the Orchard Hill pilot program.

 You are the trailblazers of residential composting at UMass Amherst.  We hope you are as excited as we are to take this big step towards waste diversion.  As this is a pilot program, you may notice that things are structured slightly differently in each building.  This was done intentionally to see which of these variations works best for residents. The three structures were based largely on resident feedback provided through the Orchard Hill Composting Pilot questionnaire, distributed this past fall.

  • All buildings: Compost toter with signage in every waste room. Compost bins in each kitchen and in the first floor lounge.  All residents received a printed how-to guide tailored to their building’s specific compost structure. Misplaced your guide? Step-by-step instructions and links to PDFs below.
  • Grayson Field: Grayson Field residents should bring their compostable materials directly to the compost toter in the waste room on their floor.
  • Webster: In addition to the above, Webster residents will receive an in-room bin to collect compost.  
  • Dickinson: In addition to the above, Dickinson residents will receive an in-room bin with compostable liners to collect compost.

Information

For All:

Acceptable items:

  • Food waste of any kind – meat, bones, veggies, grains.. If it is (or was) edible, it’s compostable.
  • Coffee grounds/paper filters (not Kcups) and teabags (without staples)
  • Plants – Turn out your thumb isn’t as green as you thought? Compost your failed botany projects and wilted flower arrangements. Pro tip: plastic pots are not compostable or recyclable – reuse or trash.
  • Greasy pizza boxes (clean pizza boxes without grease/food residue can be recycled!)
  • Tissues, paper towels & napkins – brown or white, used tissues, paper towels, and napkins can be composted
  • To-go items that are labeled compostable. Pro tip: All UMass Dining to-go items are compostable!

Unacceptable materials:

  • Liquids – Never go in the compost (or recycling or trash). Please always pour off your liquids. Pro tip: if you can pour it, it’s considered a liquid.
  • Recyclables – Recyclables are NOT compostable. Please place recyclable items in the recycling bin. Refer to acceptable items (web link - https://www.umass.edu/living/learning/sustainably) under Recycling.
  • Food packaging – Food packaging generally isn’t compostable. Think: chip bags, snack wrappers, plastic tubs, and the like… Maybe you didn’t make it through that whole case of Ramen? You can compost the noodles, but trash the plastic wrapper and flavor packet. Pro Tip: Unopened non-perishable foods can also be dropped off at New2U collection tents during move-out for donation.

For Webster residents:

  1. Place compostable items in your bin
  2. Empty frequently – daily is best!
    1. Especially if you put in a lot of moist foods
    2. If it smells – If you can smell your compost it needs to be emptied, regardless of how full it is.
  3. Keep it clean –
    1. Can place a Daily Collegian or paper bag at the bottom to absorb excess moisture from wet food waste.
    2. If/when wet or dirty, clean out in the utility sink in the bathroom
    3. You are responsible for keeping your bin clean and sanitary. Discuss shared responsibilities with your roommate.
  4. You may choose to bypass the in-room bin and bring items directly to the compost in the waste room if you would rather not keep any food waste in your room. Pro tip: Discuss your preferences and any shared responsibilities with your roommate to come to a mutual agreement.

For Dickinson residents:

  1. Place a compostable liner in your compost bin
  2. Place compostable items in your lined bin
  3. Empty frequently – daily is best!
    1. Especially if you put in a lot of moist foods
    2. If it smells – If you can smell your compost it needs to be emptied, regardless of how full it is.
    3. Drop liner and all into the compost toter in your waste room.
  4. See your RA for more liners when you run out. (I cant get this to read as #4 no matter what I do)
  5. Keep it clean
    1. If a liner breaks or leaks, clean out your bin in the utility sink in the bathroom
    2. You are responsible for keeping your bin clean and sanitary.
  6. You may choose to bypass the in-room bin and bring items directly to the compost in the waste room if you would rather not keep any food waste in your room. Pro tip: Discuss your preferences and any shared responsibilities with your roommate to come to a mutual agreement.

For Grayson and Field residents:

  1. Bring any compostable items directly to the compost bin in your waste room. Easy peasy! Pro tip: Discuss your preferences and any shared responsibilities with your roommate to come to a mutual agreement.

Resources

Compost Ambassadors - Apply Today!

Residential Life is looking for a handful of passionate Orchard Hill residents to serve as Compost Ambassadors for the Orchard Hill composting pilot. Responsibilities will include:

  • daily monitoring of compost bins/waste rooms (<1 hour)
  • responding to resident questions/inquiries around composting
  • support development and implementation of compost-related programming/outreach
  • serving as a rockstar/role-model of best composting practices

Have a question about composting in your community? Soon you'll be able to contact your residence hall’s compost ambassador.  

How-to Guides

Dickinson how-to guide PDF
Grayson Field how-to guide PDF
Webster how-to guide PDF

Living Sustainably at UMass Moodle
Learn more about waste reduction, and other sustainable living topics in the Living Sustainably at UMass Amherst OPEN moodle.

UMass Amherst Food Recovery Network

Interested in reducing food waste before it becomes waste AND improving food security? Check out the food recovery network!

UMass New2U

Learn what materials (including unopened non-perishable foods) can be dropped at New2U tents during spring move-out.

Inspiration

Did you know? In ResLife, 30% of what goes into our trash and 10% of what goes into our recycling could have been composted. That is over 500,000 lbs of waste that could have been turned back into rich, life-giving soil. That same waste sent to the landfill will emit over 400 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or equivalent to the electricity of powering an average household for 108 years!!

Where does our compost go? Martin’s Farm, Greenfield

Upcoming OHill Compost Events/Programming

Coming soon!

Zero waste/waste-reduction inspiration