University of Maine Dining Services and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension have partnered in a commendable effort to bring UMaine into the new year in sustainable style.
The fruits of their collaboration include a new composting facility, of Northwest-U.S. origins, that will take the university’s previous measures to compost food waste to a whole new level, in terms of sustainability. Its benefits will manifest in more ways than just environmental — so those among you who don’t feel all warm and fuzzy about composting practices can still be excited by the promise of a lesser burden on the Auxiliary budget.
Contracting out other businesses to compost our food waste in previous years wasn’t the most “cost-effective” practice in any sense of the word. But now the initial investment in an “advanced-composting” system — the first in the state — will mean the waste is managed on site, and the resulting product will benefit the health of our campus’ and its affiliates’ physical grounds, not to mention serve as a responsible means of disposal for the near-ton of food waste generated by campus dining facilities annually.
Cooperation from university employees will make the implementation and maintenance of this new composting system an entirely family affair. Facilities Management, for example, will undertake the task of maintaining the daily operations of the site. Experienced professors will oversee the process.
As a result, there exists a great new learning opportunity for students in related areas of study, such as those in the Environmental Sciences and Sustainable Agriculture program. They will have an opportunity to experience an easily accessible, real-life application of the very concepts they are studying.
UMaine students should be proud of the example the university is setting and should strive to implement similar practices on a small scale in their own lives. The institution is not only showing a commitment to a multi-faceted approach to sustainability, but is doing so with much attention to detail and with an obvious willingness to revisit and improve their policies over time.
It’s no shock that a land grant university with a rich history and strong ties to the sciences would be continually improving its relationship to the environment, but that shouldn’t detract from the importance of each individual step in that direction. For this particular step it deserves two thumbs — green thumbs — up.