The Michigan Daily: Office of Campus Sustainability hosts lunch-and-learn to teach the rules of composting

This article was originally posted on The Michigan Daily by Evangeline Doolittle on April 3, 2024.

The Office of Campus Sustainability held a lunch-and-learn Wednesday afternoon as part of the LSA 2024 Year of Sustainability. During the event, Nicole Berg, program manager of the Office of Campus Sustainability, discussed the different means of recycling on campus and the details of what can be recycled and composted. 

The presentation taught the audience the proper ways to recycle and compost on campus. The talk also discussed the University’s plans to reduce the amount of waste U-M sends to landfills 40% by 2025. To reach this goal, the University has converted some buildings and dining halls to be zero-waste facilities, held office supply amnesty days and promoted property disposition for offices.

During her presentation, Berg discussed how the waste reduction goals have changed as the campus grows.

“You can see we are not quite there,” Berg said. “But this does not mean we have not been making a lot of improvement. Over the same time frame, we have grown 35% or more as a campus in both population and square footage. So if you look at waste by square foot or waste sent to landfills per person, it has gone way down. The goal just did not account for that growth.”

The Sustainability Office also plans to increase the number of compost bins they will station around campus in the upcoming year. 

In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Berg said she believes it is important that the U-M community commit to sustainable practices because of the vast amount of emissions and waste it produces. 

“We’re a community, including all the staff and faculty in the medical center, of almost 80,000, and if you think of all the waste we generate, we can have a huge impact together,” Berg said. “It really is making a big impact with waste reduction, with the saving of materials, and even greenhouse gasses.”

In an interview with The Daily, Business sophomore Breonna Boyd said the event taught her how to dispose of everyday items.

“I didn’t know a lot about the common items that we use and how to dispose of them, especially coffee cups, boba cups and stuff like that,” Boyd said.

Caitlin Jacobs, LSA carbon neutrality program manager, said the office chose to host this event to educate the faculty and student body about the different ways to dispose of excess materials. 

“Waste is a big opportunity area for everyone on campus,” Jacobs said. “LSA puts on a lot of major events that are high waste generating. We have people who are working really hard on this, but we thought it was important to offer a combination of virtual and in-person options for people to get trained up on this.”

LSA sophomore Lauren May, LSA facilities sustainability intern, told The Daily about the importance of attending events hosted by the Office of Sustainability.

“I think as a student, it is helpful to be educated like this, so I can be a resource for other people,” May said. 

Berg said that the University has been on the forefront of sustainability as compared to its peer institutions.

“The University of Michigan, especially compared to peers in our region, we have very comprehensive recycling and composting programs,” Berg said. “I am excited that we are definitely one of the leaders when it comes to having compost collection on campus and the breadth of our accomplished programs.”

Daily Staff Reporter Evangeline Doolittle can be reached at

By stejenna

Jenna Steele is the Year of Sustainability and Carbon Neutrality Program Assistant for U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

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