Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Yay! Back to school...

Hi everyone,

I know this update is long overdue, but from now on, I promise that I will make at least one monthly update on this blog.

This year we have seen a decrease in team members :(. Lesley is at Tufts getting her vet degree and Miriam is busy getting a Master's in Teaching and being a great TA at one of the local middle schools. Ashton is in Chile, Marcos is graduating in December and Nikhil transferred to USC. Amy is working for a mine and Blake is busy with his fraternity. So now only Alex and I are left from the old team (we are co-PMs). However, we have a new team member, Rachel! Welcome Rachel, to our awesome composting team. So lets get on with composting...

First, our pilot compost windrow is definitely done and within the next few weeks we will send it into a compost testing laboratory to make sure that we won't kill any plants with our black gold. If the compost is good and well, and has a good ratio of nutrients, we will be giving some to the Garden Team from our mother group (Students for Sustainability, at the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ) and possibly giving some to companies that may be interested in buying our compost as sample compost.

Secondly, a very large change to the project is that we will now be doing only windrow composting. The higher uppers want to see us succeed at not using very expensive machinery first before they will approve of buying an in-vessel composter.

Third, because of the change from in-vessel composting to windrow composting, we will have to change and revise our business plan, proposal and executive summary. SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise at the UA) will also be helping us with editing the final drafts.

Lastly, many large companies are very interested in looking at selling our compost and if all goes well we will have our project up and running, hopefully by the end of the school year. This is our main goal for the year.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

As promised...

Happy summer, everyone! Here is the link to the news story that Lesley and I were in, talking up Compost Go-Live and Students for Sustainability: UA students use compost to create garden gold

This aired last night (Tuesday, June 8, 2010) at 10pm!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Media BLITZ!

So I've been thinking. We need a name for the followers of this blog. Because I wanted to begin this post with something like, "Hello, [insert compost-related name for blog readers here]!" Unfortunately, I can't think of a cute, compost-related nickname at the moment. Someone come up with one, and you'll get a shout out and good karma and green love from all of us here at Compost Go-Live.

ANYHOODLE, the real reason I'm posting is because we got more media attention! As you can see from the post Polly published below, we got an article in the Daily Star! On that same day, we were ALSO on the radio for KUAZ's Arizona Spotlight! Here is the link to that, if you are interested in hearing us in all of our glory:
Here are some pictures from that day:
Ashton and I pitchforking green waste onto the pile while the photographer from the Daily Star takes millions of pictures.

Amy and Ashton being photographed AND recorded AND doing both at the same time!

Alex, Marcos, and Polly brought more food waste to be dumped into our compost pile. Evan Pellegrino from KUAZ recorded everything!

Unmixed (to the left of the machine) vs. mixed (to the right) compost!

And, if all that isn't enough, we ALSO got filmed today to be on KVOA channel 4! The story should air sometime within the next two weeks, and I'll be sure to post a link to it here!

All of this attention is great for us because not only does it spread the word about our specific project, but also it spreads the word about compost and sustainability in general. This just proves to me that it IS possible to make a difference, no matter how small you start!

This has been a wonderful year, and I'm happy to have been a part of it. This summer, the four of us that are remaining in Tucson (Ashton, Polly, Amy, and myself) will be working on two projects: the RFP (Request for Proposal) process, and our compost pile at the ag center. Hopefully, by the beginning of next year, we will be on our way to purchasing our in-vessel system for the campus!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

Our Pilot Project Begins!

Well hello there, internet! Although it's been awhile since I published anything, a lot has been going on for us behind the scenes. Most of it has involved our having meetings, which is not really blog-worthy, meeting minutes being one of the more boring forms of documentation in existence. HOWEVER, today was a very exciting day! Allow me to present to you our VERY-FIRST-EVER pile of compost! 
Isn't it beautiful?
You see, at the important meeting I published about previously, it was decided that we should do a "Pilot Project," i.e., prove to the administration that we actually can make compost. So over the past few weeks, we have been figuring out the logistics of how, when, and where to make a windrow. Steve Husman, director of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Tucson Area Agriculture Centers graciously allowed us to use the West Campus Ag Center for this project, as our windrow is small. Next, we worked with Chris Kopach, associate director of Facilities Management, to get some of our green bins out of storage. Alex and I spent some time collecting them in my friend Andrew's truck on Wednesday (THANK YOU, Andrew!), and dropped them off at the loading dock in the union. Finally, I called Tori Christie, the wonderful associate director of Dining Services, and she made sure our bins got filled with compostable food waste (no meat or dairy) from the Union. Today was finally the day to get started!

Sean (our SIFE representative), Ashton, and I met Glen Loftis, Facilities Events Services Supervisor, at the loading dock in the Union, loaded up his truck with the bins that were full of waste, and headed to the West Campus Ag Center.
Glen, Sean, and Ashton with our bins, ready to go!

At the Ag Center, we met with Ken Kriederman, Farm Supervisor Senior, who is going to be our main contact at the farm. He helped us with the next steps.
We dumped all of the food waste from the bins in Glen's truck into this! A man named Dale operated all the machinery today, but HOPEFULLY, we will get trained to use it!
This is the only picture I got of Dale.
The machine is pulled over the pile. It mixes it and sprays water onto the material as it passes over it. This time, however, we chose not to use the water as we still have ingredients to add.
Sean took some video for our entry into the Carbon14 contest (which has been postponed)!
The windrow machine is pulled by a tractor, and pulls behind it a tank of water for the sprayers to use.

Part of the pile as the machine is pulled over it. We had a LOT of lemons (from Chik-Fil-A in the Student Union), and a lot of them got tossed out of the pile by the machine! It was like lemon shrapnel.

 Blake showed up in time to help us throw lemons back on the pile!
A close-up of the mixed pile. Eventually, all of those pieces will decay and break down.

Blake, Ashton, Me, and Sean on the farm.

Lesley, Me, Blake, and Ashton standing on top of our very first pile of compost! Don't worry, we haven't mixed any manure in yet!

In the next week, we will be adding to the pile (more food and green waste, and some manure). In fact, we may decide to double its size! Today was really a great day, because after almost a year meeting in an office and speaking theoretically about compost, we finally got to go outside and start creating some! I am so proud of our progress this year.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Important meeting this afternoon! And other news!

Today at 3:00 we will be having a VERY important meeting with university administrators! We have been working exhaustively on our business plan over the past couple of weeks, and today, we are presenting it in the hopes that we can move forward with this project! Hooray!

This morning, I went with Lesley, Ashton, Polly, and Marcos to visit the future site of our composter. It was very exciting, despite being way too early in the morning, and freezing. Our composter will be on the grounds of the West Campus Agriculture Center, which has a lot of space. We will even have (most of) a building to house equipment and such!

Polly and I are currently in the process of contacting local nurseries/landscapers in the hopes that they will want to purchase our compost to resell to the community once we have it in production. So look out for the "Dirty Cats" label sometime in the future!

I am so proud of how this team has been pulling together over the past months. It has been extremely rewarding to see our efforts (however slowly) pay off, step by step. I know we will reach our goals, although how soon I can't say. However, everyone has been optimistic and hard-working this whole time, so I am confident that we will bring compost to the U of A and Tucson!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why you should tell your friends

Hello, Internet. I realize that this blog reaches only a few people at the moment, and I am grateful for each of you! However, Compost Go-Live is on a mission: to reach as many people in the greater Tucson community as we can! Have you ever wanted to help the environment, but weren't sure what to do? You are more powerful as an individual than you think, and by simply telling your acquaintances about Compost Go-Live, you will be expanding that power even further and using it to reduce our city's carbon footprint. Our goal will become easier if people are aware of us and want us to pursue our project, so please, read on!

The Compost Go-Live team has been working tirelessly for months to bring composting to our campus, but it doesn't have to stop there! In fact, we want it to expand, so that Tucson as a city starts composting its waste. This will probably entail people bringing their compostable waste to a central location, and picking up batches of compost for their gardens as compensation. Of course, if you don't have a garden, you may not want any. But here is a fun fact about the landfill that all of our waste currently goes to: it is a hole in the ground, lined with concrete. Which means that all of the food waste our city produces sits in a pit and rots, when it could be nurturing the soil and helping us landscape, xeriscape, and grow more food! Some people may need more incentive than that, however, and that's where you (and all of your friends) come in. Do you have any ideas that could help us reach the Tucson community? What would cause you to want to compost your food waste instead of simply tossing it in the kitchen garbage? Go ahead and post your answers as comments on the blog, or email me (! And in the meantime, tell your friends, enemies, relatives, neighbors, business associates, tax attorneys, stalkers, and anyone else you know about Compost Go-Live. Tucson is a beautiful, friendly, and unique city, and we want to make it even more special through composting waste and reducing carbon emissions. But we can't do it without you.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Our video is almost done!

Today we filmed our video that we are going to enter into the Carbon14 Environment Award contest! I think it came out really well. Some highlights include Marcos the Landfill ripping off his sunglasses in shock, my lovely handmade fake bag of compost, and of course, Alex in a banana suit. We are just waiting on Sean to edit it and put the music over the background, and it will be complete! When it is uploaded to the website, I will post a link so that everyone can go vote for it!

Special thanks go out to Christopher Stern for stepping in to be our Compost Vessel guy at the last minute!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Carbon14 $50,000 Environment Award

Today, Ashton, Blake, Polly, Amy, Marcos, Alex, Sean (our fabulous SIFE representative) and I all met at the University to practice the 1-minute movie we're filming next week to enter into Carbon14's Environment Award contest. It looks like the video is really going to be great, and it's due by February 28th. Once all entries have been submitted on the 28th, voting will begin. So, here is a link to the website: Carbon14 Environment Award. A round of voting will commence, and the top 20 videos will be reviewed by the judges. After that, there will be five videos to vote on, and the winner of that round will receive the award. So don't forget to vote for us! I really do think we have a fair chance, our video is informative and entertaining (at least in my opinion).

In other news, we'll be starting our exciting waste audit on Monday -- for about a month, we will be collecting food waste from the different restaurants in the Student Union and weighing it to try and get a good estimate for how much food waste we'll need to plan for. Once we have that number, we will be able to submit it and the business plan to the university administration, who will (hopefully) then allow us to buy a composting unit. Woohoo!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Party tonight!

This might appear last minute, but we have been marketing the silt out of this event:

This a party not to miss! Join us to raise money for Students for Sustainability, the internship network for Compost Go-Live. All admission monies go to supporting future sustainable efforts at the University of Arizona.

As the flier says, lights and music will be provided via solar power stored in batteries from the Solar Store

All cups and utensils will be fully degradable!... if only we had that composter already...

Please come show your support to the UA and the greater Tucson area for making the first steps out of the landfill and into the enrichment of our soils. And have fun making this happen!

A brand new blog!

Welcome to the Compost Go-Live blog! Compost Go-Live is a team of students dedicated to creating a composting program for the University of Arizona. Our short-term goal is to purchase a large-scale in-vessel composting unit for the campus to compost food waste from the restaurants in the Student Unions, green waste from Facilities Management, and animal waste from the Campus Agriculture center. Our long-term goals include creating a small business from which to sell our compost in order to ensure the longevity of this program (we are partnering with SIFE - Students in Free Enterprise to sell our product), and to someday branch out to composting waste for the greater Tucson community. Our two immediate projects are completing a business plan to submit to the University's administration and performing a waste audit on the Student Union to see how much food waste we will be composting. We meet on Thursdays at 8:00pm, and discuss our projects and what we accomplished individually and as a team throughout the week.

Compost Go-Live is one of eight sustainability teams within the greater Students for Sustainability (formerly ASUA Sustainability) initiative. This entirely student-run-and-operated organization is dedicated to promoting sustainability across the campus of the University of Arizona. The other teams are Garden in the Desert, the Solar Dorm Initiative, General Sustainability, Education and Outreach, the SAGE Fund, Earth Day, and Climate Action Planning. If you wish to know more about any of these teams, don't hesitate to contact us!

Some terms that will be used commonly in this blog: 

Sustainability - (ecology) a means of configuring civilization and human activity so that society, its members and its economies are able to meet their needs and express their greatest potential in the present, while preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems, planning and acting for the ability to maintain these ideals in the very long term. (From wikipedia:

Food waste - Waste from the food we eat (at this time, we are only planning on being able to compost non-dairy and non-meat foods). 

Green waste - Leaf cuttings, grass clippings, and other such natural plant materials. At this time, we will only be receiving these materials from Facilities Management. 

Animal waste - manure, which at this time will be coming from the Campus Agriculture Center. 

Compost - a combination of decomposed plant and animal materials and other organic materials that are being decomposed largely through aerobic decomposition into a rich black soil. The process of composting is simple and practiced by individuals in their homes, farmers on their land, and industrially by industries and cities. (From wikipedia:

Amendment - Compost that is added to the soil for improved plant growth.

Fertilizer - Compost that is added to the soil for improved plant growth. In order for compost to be classified as fertilizer, it must be tested in a lab and certified. 

Large-scale in-vessel composting unit - A large piece of machinery that processes large volumes of waste into compost through aerobic decomposition. 
Contributers to this blog:
The following lovely people are all affiliated with the Compost Go-Live team, and will be contributing to this blog so that our experience can be shared completely with anyone interested!

Miriam Frieden: Blog administrator; U of A alumna, with a B.A. in Anthropology and Creative Writing; Compost Go-Live Volunteer (formerly an intern); Grammar Nazi.

Lesley Ash: Director of Students for Sustainability; senior at the University of Arizona, majoring in Veterinary Science and minoring in Chemistry; Brit-in-Disguise.

Ashton Inskeep: Compost Go-Live Project Manager; University of Arizona sophomore, majoring in Environmental Science and Spanish Translation; Compost Guru.

Blake Zimmerman: Compost Go-Live Project Manager; University of Arizona junior, majoring in Accounting; Bicycle Aficionado. 

Alex Harris: Compost Go-Live Intern; University of Arizona sophomore, majoring in Chemical Engineering; Ginger.

Amy Veek: Compost Go-Live Intern; University of Arizona junior, majoring in Environmental Science; Volleyballer. 

Marcos Fernandez: Compost Go-Live Intern; University of Arizona senior, majoring in Engineering; Resident Bro.

Nikhil Handyal: Compost Go-Live Intern; University of Arizona freshman, as yet undeclared; Evil Genius. 

Polly Juang: Compost Go-Live Intern; University of Arizona junior, majoring in Engineering Management; Musical Adept.

We will all contribute to the blog any time we feel that there is something important to share! I for one look forward to blogging about this exciting project as we get closer to achieving our goals.

- Miriam