Monday, February 28, 2011

Students present about college's composting at national conference

GOSHEN, Ind. – Goshen College students Hannah Eberly, a junior nursing major from Harrisonburg, Va., and David Zwier, a junior business major from the Dominican Republic, represented the college at the United States Composting Council's (USCC) annual conference in San Jose and Santa Clara, Calif., in late January.

Eberly and Zwier have worked extensively with a composting project in the Goshen College Dining Hall throughout the past summer and school year. Lewis Naylor, an adjunct professor of chemistry and adviser to the composting project, suggested that the students apply to present at the conference. "Hannah and I never imagined that our proposal would be accepted," said Zwier, "much less that we would be the only college-aged presenters at the conference."

USCC is the only national organization dedicated to promoting the composting industry. It focuses on educating, training, researching, compost networking and gaining public support. More than 1,000 people attended the conference this year plus numerous exhibitors, demonstrators and sponsors.

According to Eberly and Zwier, the participants ranged from CEOs of large companies to representatives from the United States Department of Agriculture to magazine editors.

Eberly and Zwier learned primarily about how composting can occur on a massive scale, particularly in large cities. Large amounts of food waste can now be processed through industrialized composting. Industrialization isn't necessary, however, for smaller populations, like at Goshen College.

"We learned that although Goshen College's composting system is small and simple, it is also admirable," said Eberly. "Ease and frugality works for small populations."

In the Goshen College Dining Hall, compost is collected through a program that students and dining hall employees collaborate on. This includes the "pre-consumer waste" from the kitchen preparation and the "post-consumer waste" of food not eaten by students. A station has been set-up for students to divide their waste into bins, which student volunteers from the Eco-PAX Club and the dining hall employees take out to a giant composter outside daily. The composter was created by Naylor, an international expert on composting. Once all of the food is broken down, the compost is then used on campus as a fertilizer. This is reducing hundreds of pounds of compostable material being thrown out in the trash each day.

In their presentation, Eberly and Zwier shared about Goshen College's sustainability efforts. They also spoke for other colleges and universities that are too small to contract out composting services alongside trash waste services.

"In essence, Goshen College represented the true simplicity of composting that requires only food waste, oxygen, heat and time," said Eberly.

Eberly and Zwier will continue to promote Goshen Colleges composting system. They are working with others from the conference to update the blueprint for the composter. They hope to make the design web-accessible to allow others to benefit from it.

– by Grace Parker for the Goshen College Record

Editors: For more information about this release, to arrange an interview or request a photo, contact Goshen College News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or


Goshen College, established in 1894, is a residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college's Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron's Best Buys in Education, "Colleges of Distinction," "Making a Difference College Guide" and U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges" edition, which named Goshen a "least debt college." Visit


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1700 S Main St
Goshen, Indiana 46526
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