It’s not just trash! Plate to Plant offers Grinnell a new compost alternative – The Scarlet and Black

By MJ Old
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A community composting project can be the solution to sustainable living in Grinnell. After the cuts to the city’s recycling program over the past two years, an alum from Grinnell College is trying to do their part to keep Grinnell green.

Plate to Plant, run by Bella Kugel `20, began its pilot program in September. Every Wednesday, Kugel picks up compost from the participating residents of Grinnell and deposits its the organic waste in Marvin Gardens, a freely selectable garden operated by the municipal development organization Imagine Grinnell. The program costs $ 5 per week.

“That only covers the cost of the work required to collect, handle, and wash buckets and some of our online costs,” said Kugel. “We’re not a company, we’re not trying to make money, we’re just trying to provide a really critical service and expand that service as much as possible in Grinnell.”

To maximize environmental friendliness, Kugel picks up members’ compost bins on their bikes – even in the heart of an Iowa winter. “Driving uphill with 200 pounds of compost is a challenge goddamn Training, ”said Kugel. “I think my thighs have grown about two inches.”

Grinnell residents currently pay a monthly fee to the city based on the size of their trash can for roadside garbage collection. In order to recycle, the residents have to bring recyclable materials to the public service themselves D.Apartment during their opening hours. Outside the city there is also a brush dump where garden waste can be deposited for a fee. To save costs, the C.Grinnell got rid of his Glass recycling program in 2019.

Kugel believes that much of the rubbish Grinnell produces doesn’t need to go to the landfill.

“30 to 50 percent of the average trash can is made of compostable material,” she said, “and about 40 more percent is recyclable, so most of what is thrown in the bin isn’t actually trash. We could save the city a lot of money if everyone had access to a composting program.

Composting is essentially just the human management of a simple process that occurs regularly in nature: decomposition. Most things that are naturally degradable are biodegradable, and most things that are biodegradable are compostable.

According to Kugel, meat and dairy products are often a challenge for composters because their strong smells can draw bugs onto the compost heap during the decomposition process. However, through careful monitoring and management, Plate to Plant can accept these products and compost effectively.

By rotating the stack and adding water and even changing the material balance, Kugel says Plate to plant is capable of this Make sure the right bacteria are doing the right thing at the right time. “So you’d add wood chips or hay or what you might think of as brown, crispy materials to compost,” she said, “it can’t just be the leftover food.”

In the future, Plate to Plant hopes to expand by collecting compost from restaurants and institutions like the Mayflower Community. Kugel has also applied for grants on behalf of the program to reduce reliance on participation fees.

“We are really looking to eliminate or deeply reduce costs,” said Kugel. “We find US $ 5 a week too expensive. … Of course it shouldn’t cost money to be environmentally friendly and manage your compost. ”

Another way of expansion is extracting compost from college-affiliated homes such as project houses and houses on the high street. College began Composting program on campus in 2019.

As a graduate, Kugel knows that composting is more than just ecological friendliness for students. “I feel like I’m in school somewhere, feels a little dissociative,” she said, “and I found that composting is one of the things that makes me feel rooted in a place and pay a little more attention to it where you are living and who you live with. ”

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