Compost bins return to campus after successful pilot program


Kate Neuschwanger / Hilltop Views

Former SFS member Faith Golz(left) and Tobias (right) handing out compost bins to students.

For the second year, Students For Sustainability (SFS) has distributed compost bins to students living on campus. Prior to this year’s full launch, SFS gauged student interest with an initial pilot program. Members knocked on every unit door at the Maryhill and Hilltopper Heights Apartments to distribute the bins and, at the end of the pilot program, the City of Austin donated around 50 new bins for the project. 

“[The initiative] was super successful; we didn’t get any contaminations,” SFS President Ethan Tobias said. Contamination occurs when trash that is not compostable ends up in one of the bins and makes the compost unusable. 

During the second rollout, SFS handed out about 40 bins to students from all residence halls during a tabling session on Aug. 26. The organization plans to hold more tabling opportunities to distribute bins. 

“This year, we wanted to focus on all residential students composting,” Tobias said. To make composting more accessible to students, SFS installed a third collection bin between The Village and St. Andre Apartments. Two other collection bins are located at the Maryhill and Hilltopper Heights Apartments by buildings one and six. All three of these collection bins are labeled “compost only.” 

The bins can help reduce the amount of food waste that makes its way into landfills, ultimately mixing with other trash and producing harmful greenhouse gasses, like methane. 

“Composting is a more green way to use food waste, and composting creates rich compost soil, which we can use for gardens,” Tobias said. 

SFS is partnering with Break It Down Austin and Bon Appetit, St. Edward’s on-campus caterer, in this initiative. Bon Appetit composts the food waste that is a byproduct of back-of-house operations, and Break It Down Austin collects the food waste from campus to turn it into compost. 

“The beauty with Break It Down, is that they give us the opportunity every year to get some of the compost that was made with the food waste we gave them,” Tobias said. “Last year we used the compost within the SFS garden.”

If students are still interested in picking up a bin and cannot make it to one of SFS’ tabling events, they can request a bin using the link in SFS’ Instagram bio, @students_for_sustainability. For any students interested in joining SFS or learning more, the organization’s next meeting will be held on Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Maloney Room in Main Building.