SUNY Oswego's Sustainability Office, working with Auxiliary Services, has collected around 20,000 pounds of materials to turn into compost. It's one of many green efforts their office initiates and coordinates.

The project started with a modest capacity composting materials from a few cafes on campus last fall, but has continued to evolve.

"It's grown this semester in the spring to the entire campus dining facilities and now we're collecting every morning," said Sarah Smelko, a graduate intern in the Sustainability Office. 

"Our office partnered with Auxiliary Services and the Bristol Hill Transfer Station," Smelko explained. "So a normal day would be one of our interns grabbing one of the clean buckets cleaned by an intern the night before, putting it in the back of one of the trucks ... and it would take our ride around campus. We all feel really connected to program because we're doing it every single morning. We're cleaning buckets every afternoon and we're kind of all together a part of it."

Ashley Budd, a senior graphic design major interning with the Sustainability Office, noted the project brings a lot of educational value for those who connect with and learn about it.

"I've really been learning about everything and I think, with composting specifically, I've been learning a lot about what composting means and how we work together as an office to make it all possible," Budd said. "It just makes me feel like I'm making a difference and I'm learning about it along the way."

After the collection of food waste around campus, members of the sustainability team take it to Oswego County's Briston Hill Transfer Station just north of Fulton. 

"Jeremiah, who we work with at Bristol Hill, you can go there and meet with him and get compost for free if you're a resident of Oswego County," Smelko said. "And we use that compost here at our campus garden. So it's literally a closed loop system of  pre-consumer food items that end up in the compost piles that our students work in."

Thus the project benefits the planet, the college's Permaculture Learning Laboratory garden and the environmental awareness of the campus community.

"We're educating students about being aware of their waste," which people might not think about everyday, Smelko said, adding: "How can we think about something when we're throwing it out and be more conscious about where it's going, where it ends up and the impact it's having because it always does."

-- Video by digital storytelling intern Emma Colling of the Class of 2022