The members of the student-run Hillel started the University’s first compost project at the Berelson Center for Jewish Life. Layla Gordon ’20 came up with the idea and is the primary manager of the compost.
“The motivation behind composting was mostly waste reduction,” Gordon said. “[Up to] 40 percent of all food in America goes to waste, so if we can get even some of that back into the earth instead of the landfill, the work is all worth it.”
A produce bin within the kitchen of the Berelson Center collects fruits, vegetables, and other food remnants that are then emptied into a larger bin in the backyard of the center. The food in this bin is mixed with dried leaves and wood chips and turned daily by Gordon.
The compost benefits plant growth, and is donated to the Lewisburg Community Garden where it is used as mulch. The garden is a joint project between the University and the Borough of Lewisburg and aims to reduce food insecurity in the region by providing sustainably-grown nutritious food.
In addition to reducing food waste, Gordon sees the new compost bins as an opportunity to educate individuals about composting and to be more environmentally conscious in general. Gordon said she, along with other members of Hillel, “hope that other groups on campus start to see how easy and accessible it is to compost,” and thus feel inspired to start their own project in their organizations.
“I think the composting is an awesome initiative and a step forward to becoming a more sustainable campus,” Hillel member Daniel O’Neil ’20 said.
Hillel is currently in the process of creating a sustainability chair position within their student-run board. Rabbi Chana Leslie Glazer, the University’s Chaplain for the Jewish Community and adviser of Hillel and the Jewish Faculty and Staff Advisory Board, called this new position, along with the new composting, “a change of mindset for sure, but a good one!”
“The best, biggest way people can aid the environment is to educate themselves, then others,” Gordon said. By educating herself, she has learned how to help the environment far beyond composting.
“While compost is a great alternative to trash, the best way to reduce waste and benefit the environment is to consume less in the first place. Buy less, only put as much food on your plate as you’re going to eat, and use as few paper towels, plastic forks, and other similar products, as possible,” Gordon said.