In the last year, Haverford’s campus has met and exceeded its Real Food Challenge goal, passed a plenary resolution committing to carbon neutrality by 2035, and kicked off a successful Bike Share program. As we strive toward sustainability, you may notice even more changes around campus. There are the new, reusable take-out boxes in the Dining Center, saving thousands of dollars and diverting a huge amount of waste from the waste stream. There’s a vast new meadow by the Duck Pond, helping with storm water runoff and creating habitats for wildlife. There’s also me, the new Sustainability Fellow. In this new role I hope to help the College reach higher levels of sustainability by helping develop a natural-areas management plan, improving recycling and end-of-year waste collection, and pushing forward renewable energy policies.
One element of our new sustainable systems that you might never see is the aerobic digester working studiously behind the scenes to reduce Haverford’s carbon footprint. The digester sits in the Dining Center, churning pre-consumer food waste with digesting bacteria. Its appetite is voracious, and so far it consumes 261 pounds per day—diverting waste from landfills, cutting out the trucking and methane involved in composting, and instead pouring the processed waste into the sewage stream. It’s safe, it’s climate-friendly, and you’d never even know it was there.
The digester is working hard, but there’s a ways to go before we’ve met Haverford’s potential for sustainably processing food waste. Post-consumer food waste—the waste on the diners’ side of the Dining Center and the waste in the apartments—has yet to be fed into the new digester. But that is not permission to stop sorting your compost! Sorting food waste from recycling and landfill waste is a healthy practice to maintain, even before the system has caught up with you. There’s a team of sustainably minded folks working hard behind the scenes to help Haverford reach its potential. You can join us! Stop by the Committee for Environmental Responsibility meetings to chip in structural thinking on sustainability!