New composting bins debut at SF State
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Omar Flores finishes his lunch at Malcolm X Plaza and makes his way towards one of the many new sets of composting bins that are spread throughout the Cesar Chavez Student Center. He contemplates about what goes in where and if he places his food scraps in the correct bin, he wins a prize.

ECO Students, in collaboration with the Student Center, celebrated the culmination of composting initiatives with brand new waste bins April 23. To bring awareness to the new bins, they held a "roll out" event that taught others how to compost and rewarded them for doing it correctly with prizes.

"It gives me a positive feeling to see that our campus is becoming healthier and more green," said Flores, a 20-year-old business student. "San Francisco [State University] should be one of the prominent leaders in sustainability among the Cal States."

For nearly four years, ECO Students and the Student Center have been redesigning waste strategies in an attempt to obtain zero waste by 2020, according to Emily Naud, the student center's sustainable initiatives coordinator.

In 2006, ECO Students proposed a three-part strategy to compost with food vendors, utilize compostable foodware and collect compostable items in areas where students eat.

As the final part of the proposal, the new trash receptacles will bring the Student Center closer to that goal, said Naud.

The new receptacles are a huge deal, according to Suzanne McNulty, founder of ECO Students.

"Those who already know about the benefits of composting have a place to put their waste," McNulty said. "The next step is sharing with the rest of those who don't know how important separating your waste is."

McNulty explains that composting is key in reducing waste.

"The biggest part is changing people's behavior and attitude," said John Doctor, assistant director of facilities and maintenance at the Student Center. "This (the new waste bins) is just a part of going green, but this is a big step for the Student Center."

Mei Jardstrom, a 22-year-old environmental studies major agrees.

"I hope it reaches all of the students so that a compost bin won't be just another trash bin."

But participants seem to know what they're doing, according to Albert Kochaphum, an environmental studies major.

"The participants try," said Kochaphum. "They don't come up totally clueless. They have a pretty good awareness. It just takes some time for them to get used to this."

Some, like Adlyn South, a 20-year-old theater arts student, appreciate the help ECO Students and the Student Center offer with the new bins.

"Before, I wasn't specific about it. I used to put everything in one container - my food with recyclable materials into the recycling bin," said South. "It makes it easier for people to help me through and now I have a better understanding. It's been very effective," she said of the composting event.

The alums that spearheaded composting initiatives at SF State, Charlotte Ely and Yvette Michaud, were there to witness the completion of what they began in 2006.

"I'm very happy and proud," said Ely. "It's exciting to see the project evolve into this."

Michaud added, "We had this vision and it's exciting to see it blossom. Students from all over come to study at State - so it's not only San Francisco learning."

Now it's up to the rest of the SF State community, said McNulty.

"We gave them the tools and now we need to give them the information."

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