Nadler: Less trash, more compost – count me in

The University of Iowa is pushing for composting in the dorms— this should just be the beginning of a more sustainable Iowa City.


Sid Peterson

A composting bin is seen in a resident’s room at Catlett Hall on Tuesday, August 21, 2018. University of Iowa Housing and Dining and the Office of Sustainability have teamed up this year to offer residents the option of composting in their rooms.

Zohar Nadler, Opinion Columnist

This summer, I had the opportunity to live in Seattle, a city in the Pacific Northwest with a large tech industry and immense leadership in sustainability.

In Seattle, straws are banned, composting and recycling bins are larger than trash cans, and leaving a sizable carbon footprint is a sin. Over the course of the summer, I lived the sustainable Seattle lifestyle.

This got me thinking about how I could bring the sustainable habits I attained in Seattle and spread them in my community. I thought, the University of Iowa can be a leader for the Midwest in sustainability. We already have recycling, composting, and trash cans in some campus buildings, but we can do more.

The UI needs more composting, more recyclable products, and better access to pursue these means.

I felt as if the UI administration read my mind at the end of this summer when I found out that dorm-composting is now being pushed. For those who may not know, composting is separating material that will decay and be used as manure or soil — such as: food and compostable paper products. Food and paper products are common dorm necessities beside futons and shower shoes. I remember living in the dorms. I remember the unfinished early morning microwave oatmeal, the late-night pizza boxes, and the apples that never made it to my lunch. These are all things that could avoid the trash and be put in a compost bin. If only a compost bin were readily available to me when I lived in a dorm.

For a majority of students, college is where lifelong habits begin. If composting becomes a habit in the dorms and carries on through the rest of students’ college careers, chances are they will also carry on that habit through the rest of their lives. With an average class size of more than 5,000 students, the UI has the opportunity to affect up to 5,000 leaders who can in turn put sustainable efforts toward the state of Iowa.

Not only will the UI build eco-friendly habits for students by placing compost bins in the dorms, students will learn how easy and important it is to be sustainable. To compost is to ensure a cleaner Iowa and instill sustainable habits in the student body and future UI alumni.

If composting at the UI expands, it could become exemplary for the rest of Iowa. Because the state’s land plays such a large role in its economy, it is essential that we help keep our state clean and reduce trash that can be recycled or composted. This is only the beginning of a super sustainable UI.