Student-led effort to bring composting to the residence halls starts in November

Western Washington University will launch one of the first residence hall compost programs in the country in the first week of November.

Lidded and ventilated compost buckets will arrive to every residence hall room across campus. In future quarters, all residence hall rooms will have the bins as standard furnishing. Each bin comes with an instructional sticker, providing students with guidelines to successfully compost their organic waste. Residents will receive a roll of compostable bags that will last through the quarter.

This is a student-led project in collaboration with University Residences by Western juniors Risa Askerooth of Haleiwa, Hawaii; Jessica Loveland of Portland, Ore.; and Abby Severns of Issaquah. This project is completed through the Sustainability, Equity and Justice Fund, formerly known as the Sustainable Action Fund.

All three students lived in the residence halls their freshman years and two of them during their sophomore years. They all had jobs as Sustainability Rep Mentors last year, where they were tasked with doing a project. Askerooth said increasing accessibility in composting felt like the right fit.

“We saw such a missed opportunity in the lack of accessible compost buckets for students in the residence halls,” Askerooth said. “We realized that this program would be one of the first of its kind in the country and were determined to make it happen.”

This initiative is designed to be an educational program to instill lifelong sustainability practices and increase awareness of the ecological, social and economic benefits of composting.

“We realized that this program would be one of the first of its kind in the country and were determined to make it happen.”

Composting reduces landfill waste, noxious greenhouse gases and the impact on communities near landfills.

By getting endorsements from every residence hall council, the students were able to build consensus and support for the initiative.

“Change takes time,” Askerooth said. “But student voices can have a lot of power.”

This program is accessible to all students and creates a consistent culture of sustainable waste management across campus, and will build long term success through student turnover. Residence Hall Composting empowers students to engage with sustainable waste sorting practices and change preconceived biases about composting.

Western residents will contribute by converting potential landfill waste into a useful product that can be sold in local communities. This program will save university funds, as organic waste is cheaper to dispose of than landfill waste.

For more information on the project, visit Western’s Office of Sustainability website at