covering our community

To compost or not to compost?

A year after the city of Portland began its curbside composting program; University of Portland students living off campus have realized the impact it has made on their daily lives.

The program was initially started to divert the food waste away from landfills to help the environment.  A bonus was that it would also be cheaper to compost rather than get rid of the garbage, as reported in The Oregonian.

While the idea of composting eliminated much of the waste normally thrown out with the trash, some students still find it hard to actually use the compost pail that is provided for in-home use. Junior Caitlin Allawatt finds it a hassle to place her unwanted food in the compost bin after every meal. “I’m usually too lazy to separate what can be composted and what can’t, so I just throw it all in the trash,” she said.

Laziness might be the issue for some, but others have found that the smell that wafts from the pail is enough to prevent it from being used.  Geena Bumgartner is a Junior at UP that refuses to compost her food because her housemates never empty the bin in her kitchen.

“Our compost container has been sitting in the kitchen for over a week with rotten food in it.  I’m the only one that takes it out to the larger can outside to empty it!” said Bumgartner. This problem is a growing frustration for many students who were never used to composting. Bumgartner who is from North Bend, Washington believes that it is hard to participate in the composting program if you come from an area that did not promote recycling and composting habits.

All off campus students however do not have a negative take on this initiative. Junior Ryan Belisle said, “I think composting is a good thing. Obviously garbage landfills are a finite thing and I think it’s a good option for us to look into composting and other ideas. I mean it’s what’s best for the environment.”

Overall, composting reduced the amount of garbage the city sends to landfills, which was a drastic difference from before. Unfortunately, the implementation of this eco-friendly alternative forced the city to reduce the garbage pick up from weekly to once every other week.  This change posed a problem for students who lived in houses with 4 or more people.

“With the garbage being picked up every other week we accumulate more of it, even with the compost container. I just think it is a stupid idea,” said Allawatt. With the program, the city also provided houses with smaller garbage receptacles, and charged extra money for those who wanted a larger “normal” sized container.

While some of the students have found the composting issue to be bothersome, there still remain a few who believe in the overall progression of the city. “Garbage every other week was a big deal but I feel like the city of Portland has adapted to it really well. Anything we can do to keep consumption down and help the environment is a great deal,” said Belisle.



2 Responses to “To compost or not to compost?”

  1. earthstonestation

    Some are just too lazy. That is certainly a big issue.One way to help with the smell is keep a few pints of water in the bottom of the pail -makes it easy to dump and clean.

  2. dominiquepascua

    I lived in the dorms for three years and only just started to use the new recycling program. I don’t think my understanding of the program is the same. Mind explaining how this composting program actually works?

    My roommates and I currently take turns to take out trash and recycle bins that we automatically separate and throw into. Are those compost bins those tiny yellow plastic baskets I see around Tyson/Haggerty?

    If so, I don’t see why people would leave them inside the house either. The smell must be horrible. Hah.


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