HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall University, already known for kelly green, is going greener.
When the fall semester begins on Aug. 20 in Huntington, students, faculty and staff will see several new or expanded food sustainability initiatives on campus, including what organizers have called the largest composting effort at a university in West Virginia.
“We can take our own waste and turn it into something that we can use,” said Amy Parsons-White, sustainability coordinator at Marshall University.
Currently, a local farmer collects organic waste from Marshall’s kitchens for composting.
This fall, collections are expanding to food waste and paper napkins tossed at the three campus cafeterias — the Harless Dining Hall, the Marshall Memorial Student Center and the Twin Towers.
By January, plans call for Marshall to begin composting on site and selling the product.
Parsons-White estimated the additional collections could reduce the amount of waste generated in cafeterias and bound for landfills before now by as much as 60 percent.
“Once it’s buried (uneaten food), it’s wrapped in a plastic trash bag and buried, it doesn’t decompose. It can take 20 or 30 years for food to start to decompose once it’s buried,” she told MetroNews.
Additionally, student volunteers were being recruited to help with a food waste recovery program.
To cut down on waste, unused cafeteria food will be collected after each meal for delivery to local food banks and soup kitchens.
At Harless Dining Hall, an herb and micro-green cabinet for the cultivation of ingredients was being installed as part of a separate project.
“The cabinet is kind of like an incubator,” explained Parsons-White. “The students can see it growing, farm to table. People like to know now where their food comes from.”
Cooks will harvest the herbs and micro-greens as needed.
The three projects are the results of a partnership between Marshall Dining Services and the Marshall University Office of Sustainability.