JU dawning new shades of green

Jacksonville Composting Team creates a project which will make Jacksonville University more sustainable


Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Florida

Lettuce growing in the JU garden located behind the library. The garden also grows kale, tomatoes, and potatoes.

Amelia Reynolds, Contributing Writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— The Jacksonville University Composting Project began with a group of dedicated students with a passion to reduce waste. It evolved when they saw their opportunity to turn food waste into enrichment for soil.

This project will result in students who live on campus putting their food waste into an allotted bin, placed in each residential hall. At the end of each week, the bins will be picked up and composted.

The team of seven are dedicated to making this project as easy as possible to take part in. They understand that not everyone knows how to compost or make the most of their waste.

Elizabeth Florida is a JU student and serves as the leader of the project.

“The plan is to have students collect their compost themselves while they’re cooking and donate it,” she said. “We will have multiple officers dedicated to picking up the compost and making sure the correct items have been donated.”

Composting is a crucial part of enriching the soil, reducing chemical fertilizers, reducing waste, and minimizing the use of greenhouse gasses.

Nicolette Worrell is a JU student and member of the project.

“I am looking forward to implementing composing bins around campus because it will make it much easier for students to have access to composting,” Worrell said. “It helps make a huge difference in the amount of waste we produce.”

According to NASA, the average surface temperature of the planet has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century. It is with about 95 percent probability, according to their website, that the current warming trend is the result of human activity since the mid-20th century.

“If everyone invested time into their day to compost, more materials would be going into garden beds rather than landfills,” said Florida. “Therefore, less methane will be produced through landfills, landfill space is preserved, more water is saved from water runoff reduction, and the environment is benefited as a result.”

This project coincides with recent events in environmental news, such as the recent coverage of Greta Thunberg. Thunberg is a Swedish activist, who recently spoke at the United Nations Climate Action Summit, calling out world leaders for not adequately addressing climate change.

It has brought up questions of what can be done next.

“This is important because we are at a huge tipping point for the climate and every action counts,” Worrell said.

The primary contributor to continued environmental deterioration is lack of knowledge. People do not know what what to do to help the environment. This project not only encourages students to create less waste, but also to be more mindful on the changes they can make.

Knowing whether to compost or recycle your trash is easy.

Materials from a plant or animal, such as paper, eggs, feathers, etc. can be composted. Man-made materials, such as plastic, textiles, metal or glass can be recycled.

In 2015, Americans recorded over 67.7 millions tons of waste approximately and saved 23 million tons of waste through composting, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

With the idea that every little thing helps, JU students are actively helping the campus become more sustainable.

After the compost donations are collected, it will go to the garden located behind the JU Library to grow plants and vegetables.

The JU gardening team does not stop there. All the vegetables grown from the garden are donated to the Arlington Food Pantry, a non-profit organization that donates food to families in the Arlington community.

By taking part in this project, JU could have a chance to follow alongside other universities across the U.S. and Canada in the RecycleMania international competition.This contest works in partnership with the National Wildlife Federation and it benchmarks a school’s recycling and waste reductions efforts against other campuses. Florida does not have any participating schools.

“The best possible outcome for this project would be to have all student life and the café donating their food waste,” Florida said.

This project will be launched within a month. Hopefully, the composting bins will be available to students. Meanwhile, the group is working on slowly integrating the composting initiative into the lives of JU students and recruit younger students join to continue the project in the future.

“This gives the campus an opportunity to work together in becoming greener, as well as passes on knowledge that will be used in the future,” said Florida.