Composting at Tufts

by Rose Eilenberg

Do you love the magic of turning your food waste into nutrient-rich compost? Then, you probably want to learn more about what is going on in the world of compost on the Tufts Medford-Somerville campus. We currently have three locations where anyone can drop off their organic waste to be composted. The uphill bin is behind Miller hall next to the TIE and OOS office, the downhill bin is by the rear Tisch loading dock, and the brand new bin is located behind the Crafts House.

Tufts Recycles! recently purchased a ComposTumbler®- an incredibly easy way to turn organic matter into compost. The ComposTumbler is located behind the Crafts House, at 14 Professors Row. It consists of two compartments: one will be open for use, and the other will be  closed and in the “hot” phase of the composting cycle (which lasts about two weeks). There are labels on the doors to let people know which side to add to and which side should be left alone. What should you put in the Tumbler? Compost needs a combination of carbon and nitrogen sources:  nitrogen from fresh green things, like food scraps, and carbon from brown things. Some good carbon sources include dead leaves, brown paper bags and unbleached paper towels. There should be a few paper towels near the bin.  Every time you add some food scraps, throw in a brown paper towel or bag to give the right carbon/nitrogen ratio. It will make for a much higher quality finished product.

If possible, chop or rip your composting material before adding it to the tumbler. Decomposition will occur much faster if material is chopped up- it creates more surface area for microbial action. It is also important to rotate the drum! Every time you add compost, give the tumbler a few turns. When you are done adding/turning the bin, make sure to position it with the doors facing down to allow excess water to exit the drainage units.

For all three on-campus compost drop-off locations, the type of waste that can be composted is the same:

  • fruit and veggie scraps
  • eggshells
  • coffee grounds and teabags
  • paper bags

Unfortunately we cannot compost:

  • meat
  • fish
  • eggs (but the shells are okay)
  • dairy
  • anything oily
  • bones
  • bioplastics

In addition, for those living on campus, many dorms have composting, courtesy of the Eco-Reps. If your dorm has an Eco-Rep, ask them about composting (and just talk to them because they are cool people). Hillel has also begun to compost! We applaud their commitment to reducing waste and Tufts overall environmental impact.

Happy Composting!