Composting is a process by which worms, insects, and bacteria help decompose organic materials such as your moldy strawberries, stale bread, and coffee grounds into a fertilizer for the soil. This form of recycling helps return necessary nutrients back to the soil: think circular economy for food waste.
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
Divert food waste from the landfill by participating in GW’s compost drop-off program. Trained student Compost Educators manage a collection site on Tabling Row in Kogan Plaza that is open to all students, staff, and faculty who wish to participate.
GW Compost Educators are also available to providing composting services at university events.
Compost Drop Off Schedule
- Mondays, Fridays 9AM - 12PM
- Tuesdays, Thursdays 1PM - 4PM
- Saturdays 11AM - 12PM
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. Or keep a mini bin on your counter for convenience.
- 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.
E Street Pilot Program
GW’s Sustainability Research Fellows have launched a prototype for dorm composting at the 1959 E St Residence Hall. 25 residents have been selected to receive miniature compost buckets and Eco-Reps will pick up their organic waste multiple times per week. With the success of this program, we hope to expand this pilot to other residence halls on campuses.
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.