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Queen's University

Sustainability Office

Student-run residences composting project first in Canada

Monday October 05, 2009

A new, student-run initiative that uses red wiggler worms to decompose organic matter in Queen's University residences is the first of its kind in Canada.

The project came together this summer when several groups of students, all working on different aspects of vermicomposting, met with Bruce Griffiths, Residences director, and Claire Hooker, coordinator of community development, to set up a trial program. Three of 11 vermicomposters have already been set up, in Watts, McNeil and Victoria halls.

Unlike other types of composting, worm decomposition is fast, odorless and can occur year-round. As well, the organic waste from residences will be processed on-site, eliminating the carbon emissions involved in transporting to a centralized composting facility.

Floor residents in the Queen's program will look after the day-to-day maintenance of each composter, the collection of organic waste in reusable empty yogurt pots and feeding of the worms. "I had the pleasure of being there during one of the weekly 'worm feedings' in McNeil Hall, and the enthusiasm and passion in the room was palpable," says third-year Biology student Yan Yu, sustainability coordinator for the Main Campus Residents' Council (MCRC) and one of the project's organizers.

The vermicomposters have been leased from a student-run business, Living Cities Company, that focuses on making Kingston a more sustainable city. Company owners Mark Ouseley, fourth-year Environmental Science, and Nathan Putnam, third-year Chemisty and Biology, along with the MCRC sustainability coordinator, have provided educational seminars to residence staff members on the goals, logistics and benefits of vermicomposting.

"The ultimate goal of the program is to teach and inspire students about the benefits, the value, and the necessity of vermicomposting so that they will continue composting and motivate their peers to do so throughout their lives," says Mr. Yu. "Hopefully it will also stimulate them to look into other ways of 'greening' what they do."


Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000