The Office of Sustainability Programs partnered with the Creighton Students Union and Creighton Dining to begin a composting program on campus this semester.

“There’s no consequences of composting — it’s just wonderful,” Director of the Office of Sustainability Programs Nick McCreary said.

“The composting program is basically a reaction to the increase in waste that’s going to be produced or that has been produced in the dining halls due to takeout dining because of COVID,” McCreary said.

There are six composting bins currently available for use on campus: three located in front of the Brandeis Dining Hall and three on the Skinner Mall.

McCreary said that food, paper and yard waste can be composted, but students must

be sure to remove any plastic utensils or other trash before using the bins.

“That’s an extra step. It’s not difficult per se, but it’s an extra step that students have to take, and I’ve been really impressed that students are willing to take that,” said Kailen Wong, senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and the CSU’s vice president for finance.

The composting program is led by the sustainability office and run completely by student volunteers and work-study students.

Wong said volunteers help transport the bins and sort through them to remove any noncompostable material.

“I’ve been surprised at how willing students are to dig into trash,” said Emily Burke, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and president of Green Jays, a student or- ganization with the mission of increasing awareness and activism for environmental and sustainability issues.

Burke has volunteered for the composting program herself.

“We actually have closed the volunteer sign-ups for the remainder of this semester because there’s been such high student interest,” Wong said.

McCreary said that another important part of the program is educating students about how to compost and the benefits of it.

“It’s about educating students living on campus, but it’s also about helping them live a more sustainable lifestyle in the long-run as well,” Wong said.

Alex Schultz, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences and a work-study employee for the sustainability office, said that working with the program and educating other students about composting has helped her to realize how her own actions in sustainability can affect others.

“I think that students have really enjoyed getting out, doing some work with their hands and knowing that what they’re doing is good for the environment and good for people,” McCreary said.

After it is sorted, the compost in the bins is sent to Hillside Solutions, a commercial composter in Gretna, Nebraska.

McCreary said that 2,200 pounds of soil produced from the composting program will be donated to community gardens primarily located in North Omaha every month.

“Community gardens are the best way to bring healthy food into a community that’s being underserved or ignored by grocery stores,” McCreary said.

McCreary said that he wants the compost- ing program to expand but in a careful and strategic way.

“We can expand,” McCreary said, but “we don’t want to expand so quickly that we can’t handle it and it’s not done well.”

“In the long-term, when COVID-19 passes, that doesn’t mean that composting will fade away,” Wong said.

“We hope the university institutionalizes this program and makes it a hallmark of our campus,” Wong said.

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