Flies create mild dent in campus composting efforts

By Kayla Rutledge

Compostable fruit used in smoothies at Essential Blends. Photo: Kayla Rutledge

Essential Blends, provides students on Northern Arizona University’s campus fresh smoothies made from fruit that, if unused, can be repurposed as compost, like strawberries, bananas, blueberries, pineapple, raspberries, peaches, spinach, carrots and mangos.

Though they offer many smoothies comprised of compostable items, Essential Blends does not participate in the efforts on campus to reduce waste. The smoothie shop discontinued their participation recently, after deeming that the health issues and efforts needed collect the compost outweighed the benefits.

Flies had been reportedly lingering around the food waste, causing a minor health hazard. Since the fly incident was first reported to staff, the composting efforts have been halted until a safer method can be implemented. The complications never reached Campus Dining, but have since been resolved.

“It really is a shame, but there’s nothing we can do about it. I mean we’re talking about composting or real health issues here,” an employee at Essential Blends said while talking about why the shop does not participate in composting. The employee asked not to be identified.

The campus composting program, “ started with some students Green Fund proposal,” according to Ellen Vaughan, the manager of the office of sustainability at Northern Arizona University, and the composting program. “They started by riding around on bikes collecting the compost, and it turned out to be effective and efficient enough to be funded.”

The opportunities for the compost on campus are extensive. Mixed with wood chips and horse manure from local providers, it is used as soil for a garden on campus, and to fertilize the grass in front of some buildings.

According to Sodexo Insights, Sodexo’s news website, as of May 2016 the composting program introduced 100,000 to 150,000 pounds of materials back to composting sites on the NAU campus.

Vaughan emphasised that although the outreach of composting is very far, there are some spots that do not produce enough waste to make the trip a huge benefit to the efforts made.

“We’ve identified the best places to compost, which are the Dub and Hotspot. They offer the biggest bang for your buck,” Vaughan said. She is referring to the employment of university workers to collect the compost along with other duties.

The time it would take for the workers to reach Essential Blends, the waste would not compare to that of an eating spot at the union.

Vaughan also added that she did not know that there were flies hovering the compost at Essential Blends, but that the amount of compost that the smoothies shop provides does not play a vital role to the composting efforts on campus.

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