Clemson Sustainability got the privilege of being featured on WSPA Channel 7 on their Go Green segment. We were so excited to share the projects we have going on and get some recognition for the hard work put into the program. Happily enough they came to interview us during Sustainability Week, which featured waste audits, tours, and a small organizations fair for local vendors and sustainability-related clubs. We’ve included it below so everyone can see and share it. Go Clemson Composting!
This week during composting, the WSPA news crew came in to interview each of us about our composting projects with the possibility of being aired on the news this Friday. The news crew was doing an eco friendly segment featuring Clemson’s campus during sustainability week! We all basically gave them a synopsis of our projects and future plans for the project.
This week we also ordered our green house for vermicomposting, Camille received sample cups concerning her project dealing with compostable dining products, and Sam announced that she would be pursuing filming her video’s with a use of go pro camera!
Last Friday me (Briana) and Hannah visited the site and scoped out the corner where we are planning on setting up the greenhouse.
The price went up by about $200 on the particular greenhouse we were looking at, but i found it on another site for about $100 less. I had to do some additional research after reading reviews on several greenhouses but I still think this is our best option. The two biggest problems with most of the greenhouses was the construction and the anchoring. Lots of people reported problems with their cheaper greenhouses flying away, but this particular one includes anchoring equipment, and it supposed to be easy to construct.
I also came across several greenhouses with “double walled polycarbonate” which seems to be advantageous for keeping in heat, but overall the trade-offs didn’t seem worth it. Besides, I am already concerned with the worms overheating in the summer, the double walling would increase that concern. Since our winters are relatively mild i believe the single layer wall would be best.
The first task will be to level the ground where it will go using gravel, and we *may* want to make sort of a flooring with bricks, or concrete stepping stones, my main concern is that the legs of this bin would get wet on the concrete and eventually rot. Most of the vermibeds have metal legs, so we probably should look into that as well, but that is a little above my carpentry knowledge
heres a picture of what im talking about
as far as the rest of the materials, we were planning on lining the sides of the wooden box with a tarp to waterproof it, but they recommend just using thermally treated wood (which is weatherproof and rot resistant) when constructing a classic compost bin, so that would probably be the most practical solution. As soon as we can draw a prototype hopefully we can get the supplies and begin construction.
A unique/goofy explanation of how to create and maintain a vermicomposting bin!
This week was our last class meeting before presenting our projects. Hannah, Briana, Megan and myself (Erika) just met to finalize certain aspects of our project concerning vermicomposting. We put all of our information into one power point. We plan on meeting one more time before our final presentation.
While researching vermicomposting, Hannah and I found a unique video that explains how to create and maintain a vermicomposting bin in your home or apartment. I’m sharing this video in case anyone is interested!
Tuesday we talked about the actual size of the operation we were looking at, we got some numbers so we should be able to tackle the project with a little more information on what we are dealing with now. Clemson gets about 36,000 llbs per month of food waste, so our idea would be to use 3 different methods to tackle all of the waste, our standard pile of compost method, the vermicompost beds, and *possibly* the dehydrating/composting thing from IWS that we are currently testing out at Clemson house. The dehydrator may take some stress off of the in-vessel unit, but because it only deals with food waste, the salt content of the products is extremely high and makes the compost practically unusable. Unless the material was heavily diluted and allowed to further decompose with organic material like cuttings and wood, the product would be worthless. Though vermicomposting is slow, it is faster than traditional composting, and the products are much more valuable. I think it would be worthwhile. I actually read a research paper on vermicomposting vs. traditional composting, and the results were pretty impressive. I would skim over it just to get the gist, it was pretty interesting.
here is the link:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10889860802690513#.Uo44LsSkp8F
So i was having trouble logging in when i was supposed to do an entry earlier, but better late than never!
A couple weeks ago i was looking for ways to (efficently) keep worms alive and active during winter, i came across this article about one lady’s method for vermicomposting. I would definitely recommend reading/ skimming/ or even just looking at the pictures in this article. I love that this method could be kept at a relatively small scale, or expanded to a larger scale operation. I found this article before we went to the airport for the tour, but looking at both systems gives a good perspective on how we could use methods from each system to make our own.
When we toured, the lady at the airport (whose name i forgot…) asked if we had an empty building that we could keep the vermicomposting bins in, unfortunately we don’t have empty heated buildings to keep dirt and worms in at our disposal, BUT what if we made a greenhouse to keep them in? That’s where the article comes in, they put their worms in a greenhouse to keep then warm in the winter, however they keep their compost below ground in concrete lined boxes to ensure the worms don’t over heat. These boxes are have lids divided in two 4 foot panels, They harvest the compost by luring the worms to the opposite side of the box with fresh food, once the worms migrate to the fresher side they collect the abandoned nutrient-rich castings.
The harvesting at the airport seems much simpler and less tedious, im still trying to wrap my head around a way that would encompass the best of both worlds. The greenhouse is ideal because it uses passive energy in the winter and wouldn’t cost too much for upkeep. Perhaps a greenhouse with removable panels?
Something to ponder.
im a very hands on, DIY sort of person, so the thought of buying bins like we saw at the airport, or buying a greenhouse makes me cringe, i think it would be fairly simple to construct our own system, first as a small scale prototype then maybe expanding if we succeed.
After visiting the Charlotte Airport’s fantastic vermicomposting set-up and speaking with the extremely knowledgeable owner of Go Green, it is easier to see how Clemson could implement its own program! Though the airport bought ready-made worm bins, it would be cheaper for Clemson to build its own, and homemade bins would be just as good as manufactured ones. We would probably want to build our bins out of wood. They would need to be between one and one-and-a-half feet deep with a tight mesh grate across the bottoms, through which the castings will be able to filter. The worm bins at the airport were very long–maybe fifteen to twenty feet long. It would probably be easier for Clemson to make smaller bins, between three and five feet long, and probably no more than two feet across. The trickiest part of the construction is creating a mechanism that will scrape the castings down from the mesh bottom of the bins. Go Green’s owner suggested a sharpened blade attached to a rope. The bins will need to be set upon legs, and then comes the fun part!
The bins will require around one pound of worms per square foot, and these worms will require a bedding of newspaper and semi-processed compost to keep them happy. The worms at the Charlotte Airport eat the compost right out of the in-vessel composter, so we could do the same thing with our worms. We could also sprinkle pre-consumer food directly on top of the worm beds, and they like coffee grounds too! About 1 inch of compost should be added to the bins each week. Any more than that, and the worms won’t be able to eat it fast enough.
One of the neatest ideas we got from Go Green’s owner was in regard to heating the worm bins in cold weather: she puts space heaters under her worm bins and covers the tops of the bins with a tarp to keep in the heat. Simple, yet effective.
This week in composting we discussed our time lines for our final project. We were also informed of the upcoming field trip on Friday (October 25, 2013) to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport Composting Facility to learn about vermicomposting on a large scale.
I did some research on the facility and found out that the facility is a $1.1 million recycling facility. The facility also focuses on vermicomposting, and holds 300 pounds of worms in an 8,000 square foot bin. Each day, compostable items are collected and loaded into a pre-composter. The pre-composter then breaks the materials down in order for the worms to easily digest the material. It then loads the material into the vermicomposting system. The worm’s castings are then used to fertilize the facility’s land. If the castings are not used at the airport they can be packed and sold. Overall, the composting facility is designed to process two tons of waste a day. The airport has reduced the trash it sends to the landfill by 70 percent. The composting program has created new jobs and is expected to save the airport a ton of money in waste disposal costs.
I am looking forward to learning more about the vermicomposting program due to my groups project focusing on bringing a vermicomposting program to Clemson.
Last week during our meeting we had a visitor come talk about the idea of using compostable dining ware, cups, and plates in the Clemson House dining facility. It was interesting to hear all of the goals of the dining department at Clemson and very cool to hear about how much is being composted from campus each day. It turns out that Clemson is not the only university that is trying to compost in all of its dining halls, however. After a little research I learned that universities like Yale, Kansas State, Boston, The University of Virginia, and many more have also been trying to implement a composting program over the last couple of years. I looked at what kind of composting programs are in place for our state’s universities and found this pretty informative article from MUSC. (http://www.musc.edu/vpfa/eandf/sustainability/compost.htm) Yay for composting!