Smaller Compost Bins with Larger Environmental Benefits

By Liana Min and Kelly Yin

On Halloween, the Winsor dining hall made a radical decision. The wooden trash can holder disappeared, replaced by six buckets. The buckets labeled “Slush” are intended for liquid waste from lunch: soup, tea, coffee, miscellaneous flavored waters. The buckets labeled “Compost” are for food waste from sandwich crusts to chicken bones. 

The switch was prompted by Winsor’s new partnership with Black Earth Compost, a local environmental company based in Gloucester. Chef Heather Pierce shares the reason for this change, explaining, “We had been using Republic which is the same service that we utilize for trash and recycling. Mr. Crompton approached me about the possibility of switching to Black Earth… a company whose primary focus is on composting.” On its website, the company states that it is “dedicated to collecting food scraps from residents, schools, supermarkets, colleges, and more, all across eastern MA and RI.” Employees transport compost from their clients to their site where it’s broken down into nutrient-rich fertilizer. Once finished, the compost is returned to the customer or used by farms. 

Composting is the process of breaking down organic matter so that food can be repurposed as fertilizer. This fertilizer increases water retention in soil, which results in a reduced need for irrigation and can even increase crop yields and better harvests. Chef Pierce describes that fertilizer as “‘Black Gold’, a very nutritious soil amendment that naturally fertilizes fruits and vegetables without synthetic chemicals.” When food goes to landfills, it releases methane which accelerates global warming. On the other hand, soil produced from composting pulls and stores carbon from the atmosphere, which helps negate it. By composting, Winsor can reduce its environmental footprint, actively work to slow climate change and have a positive local impact.

Pioneering this change is Chef Heather Pierce and the Lower School Planet Protectors. In an interview with Eileen Lee ’28, Emma Beswick ’29, Lillian Feng ’29, and Majdouline Tanefis ’29, the club members answered questions regarding their work. When asked what her hope was for Winsor’s partnership with Black Earth, Lee answered that Winsor should become “more ecofriendly than what it is right now. And since composting reduces…food waste [it] would be really beneficial if we could go in this direction.” Beswick commented that “at the end of lunch there’s a bunch of really long lines… When there’s more compost bins, more people will compost because they can go through it quicker.” Additionally, the club is working on posting signs about what can and cannot be composted, among other projects around the school. Chef Pierce also tells us that the best way to support the change is to “be mindfully present when you are throwing things away” and put waste in the correct bins. 

Hopefully, this change will effectively cut down clearing time and continue to function smoothly as the Lower School Planet Protectors work with Chef Heather to create a more sustainable Winsor. We can’t wait to see what they do next!