April 14, 2010
Most people think finding worms in the university residence is bad. Not for members of the Composting Crew of the Main Campus Residents' Council (MCRC) Green Team.
They want more. In September, Queen's became the first university to launch a vermicomposting program, which uses red wiggler worms to decompose organic matter in a fast, odorless manner. It was such a success that organizers are now working to expand the program, doubling the number of composters for the next school year.
"The first year went incredibly well. This program was a huge hit with the McNeill 2 students," says McNeil resident Trevor Shah and a member of the Composting Crew, along with Laura Hendren and Zhimeng Jia.
"Students were so engaged in the program that our composter wasn't even able to meet the demand. The ultimate goal is to educate and inspire students about the practical benefits and environmental value of vermicomposting, so that they and their peers continue to compost throughout their lives."
Students took care of the daily maintenance of the 11 vermicomposters in resident buildings across the main and west campus, which helped divert roughly 400 kilograms of waste from landfills. The vermicomposters are leased from a non-profit business, Living Cities Company, run by Queen's students Marlaina Meinzinger and Nathan Putnam.
Mr. Shah and other members of the Composting Crew have submitted a 26-page report to school administration and hope expansion will be approved within the next few weeks. According to the report, the program has the support of the dons - in a survey of 160 residents, 96 per cent feel vermicomposting is a great program for the residences.
It is Mr. Shah's work with vermicomposting that helped him win this year's STRIVE (Students Taking Responsible Initiatives for a Viable Environment) Award from the School of Environmental Studies. This $500 award honours students who achieve academic excellence and who are leaders in extra-curricular activities that benefit Queen's through the visibility, education and the promotion of awareness of environmental issues.
Other green projects Mr. Shah took part in include making vending machines on campus more energy efficient and implementing new lighting systems that automatically dim in buildings open to natural but variable lighting.
For more information on sustainability in residences and the Green Team visit http://www.mcrcweb.org/v10/sustainability.php