Composting is a process by which bacteria and other microorganisms decompose organic materials such as food waste into a nutrient-rich soil material. This method of decomposition produces significantly less methane and other greenhouse gases in comparison to the anaerobic process that occurs in landfills, making it the most sustainable choice for disposing of organic materials.
Compost as a Three-Pronged Solution to Climate Change
1) Decrease Greenhouse Gas Emissions: By composting, you divert organic waste from landfills where they would emit methane while breaking down. Methane is 80x more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
2) Absorb Greenhouse Gasses: Plants can take in carbon dioxide from the compost in the soil.
3) Increase Resilience to Climate Change: Compost helps prevent erosion in extreme weather events and helps retain water during droughts.
Compost on Campus
The Office of Sustainability manages a robust compost program on campus that keeps over 100,000 pounds of organic materials out of landfills each semester. In partnership with GW Dining, all food waste generated back-of-house at Thurston Hall, Shenkman Hall, District House, and Pelham Commons is taken off-site for composting. Organic material generated from campus landscaping and seasonal leaf clean-up is also collected and composted by GW Grounds.
GW students, staff, and faculty can divert food waste from the landfill by participating in GW’s centralized compost drop-off program. Trained student Compost Educators manage a collection site on Tabling Row in Kogan Plaza that is open to all who wish to participate.
Compost Educators are also available to providing free composting services at university events.
Compost Drop Off Schedule: Fall 2023 - Spring 2024
- Mondays, Tuesdays 1PM - 4 PM
- Thursdays, Fridays 9AM - 12PM
- Saturdays 11AM - 2PM
Acceptable materials for composting are organic products including:
- fruit and vegetable scraps
- dairy products
- tea bags (without staples)
- pizza boxes
- soiled cardboard (without tape)
- any product labeled BPI certified compostable
Common contaminants to keep out of compost:
- fruit stickers
- rubber bands on vegetables or flowers
- plastic wrap
- parchment paper (commonly from Panera)
- plastic bags
If you are unsure that an item can be composted through our program, bring it to the compost collection table, where trained volunteers will be happy to answer any questions. As always, when in doubt, we encourage that questionable materials be thrown out to avoid contamination of our compost stream. For more information on composting in Washington D.C., check out our D.C. Compost Guide (PDF).
- Keep food waste such as fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, and used coffee grounds in an air-tight container or compostable bag and store it in your freezer.
- Don't forget to take your compost to the drop off site regularly. We recommend setting a calendar alert to remind you to take out your compost.
Partnership with Compost Crew
GW partners with Compost Crew to help facilitate the composting process on an industrial scale. Compost Crew is a local business founded in Rockville MD that serves the composting needs of homes, businesses, communities, and governments throughout the DMV area. Their mission is to eliminate food waste and revitalize earth’s soil through clean and convenient solutions available to everyone.