Thursday, October 6, 2011

Communal Composting has begun!

The Magis Row Meditation Houses, Georgetown Energy, GUSA, the Georgetown Garden, and EcoAction are excited to announce that a communal compost has been started at Georgetown! A large, sealable compost bin is now set up in the backyard of 3611 O Street, which is one of the two Magis Row Meditation townhouses, associated with Georgetown’s John Main Center for Meditation.

How will it work? In this first pilot phase, thirty residents on Magis Row and in other off-campus housing who have demonstrated interest are receiving individual composting buckets for their kitchens. They will empty these buckets into the communal bin whenever they are full. Many thanks goes to GUSA for the money for these buckets, and to the Georgetown Garden for the communal bin!

If this goes well, we hope to order more buckets for even more residents, both on- and off-campus, to use, so email us if you’d be interested in receiving a bucket in the future! When the communal bin is full, we’ll bring the compost up to the Georgetown Garden by Kehoe Field, where it will provide fertilizer for students’ plots.

Lots more information after the jump...

In the meantime, anyone who wants to contribute to the compost can do so. Just bring your compostable material (more on that below) to the bin in the backyard of 3611 O Street. The house is a light-blue townhouse with an alley along the left side.

Walk down the alley and into the backyard. All the way in the back, in the far right-hand corner, you’ll find a big black bin with a cover that you turn to remove. Dump your compost in on your way to class or work, and you’re all set! 

You can also buy your own individual composting bucket! Here are a few inexpensive bins that you can order from Amazon. If you do your own search, just make sure that you’re buying a small bin for your kitchen rather than a large, expensive backyard bin – we already have one of those!

Why compost in the first place? Here’s a great list from the EPA about the main environmental, social, and economic reasons for composting. Composting can:

  • Suppress plant diseases and pests.
  • Reduce the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • Promote higher yields of agricultural crops.
  • Facilitate reforestation, wetlands restoration, and habitat revitalization efforts by amending contaminated, compacted, and marginal soils.
  • Cost-effectively remediate soils contaminated by hazardous waste.
  • Remove solids, oil, grease, and heavy metals from storm-water runoff.
  • Capture and destroy 99.6 % of industrial volatile organic chemicals in contaminated air.
  • Provide 50 % cost savings over conventional soil, water, and air pollution remediation technologies

Not sure how to compost? No problem. Below is a helpful chart of what to compost and what not to compost. It’s pretty simple: food scraps other than meat, fish, or dairy can be composted, as well as cardboard, newspapers, paper towels and napkins, and yard clippings. It’s important not to include any of the items that can’t be composted, because it could contaminate the entire compost.

Do NOT compost!
Fruit and vegetable peels, rinds, & stalks
Bread & grains
Stale beans and flour

Egg shells
Meat or fish bones
Nut shells
Fat, grease, lard, oils

Coffee grounds & filters

Tea bags

Paper products
Shredded newspaper
Colored or glossy paper
Shredded cardboard

Cardboard rolls

Paper towels

Paper napkins

Paper bags

Grass & lawn clippings
Chemically treated wood & plants
Stems, twigs, wood, leaves, bark
Pernicious weeds

Pet or human waste

Email Madeline Collins ( or Colin Doyle ( for more information about this project. We’re happy to answer any of your questions about composting, and we hope you’ll get involved!


  1. I'm so glad to hear that the compost initiative is taking off! Good work!

  2. Great work! Thanks for organizing this.