Take Advantage of the Earthtub

Important Project on the Castlegar Campus


Story submitted by Cali Olleck and Sara Hanlon

As the trees continue to shed their leaves and we prepare for winter, staff and students at Selkirk College are reminded of an opportunity to take advantage of a composting project on the Castlegar Campus.

Gardeners have been stockpiling those carbon-rich leaves to add to the compost pile in preparation for spring planting. Composting is a great way to build nutritious soil for the garden and reduce the amount of garbage transported to the landfill. In fact, organic materials make up one-third of the bulk that is sent to landfills, and according to Environment Canada, 38 per cent of our country's total methane emissions can be attributed to landfills (due to the anaerobic breakdown of organics).

Composting bin

The Earthtub is located at the edge of the G-wing parking lot on the Castlegar Campus.

The Selkirk College Castlegar Campus has been actively dealing with organic waste produced at the college since 2011 with an “Earthtub” composting program, which was partially in response to an estimate that found 2.9 tonnes of food waste were produced annually by the college.

You may have noticed the Earthtub at the edge of the G-wing parking lot, silently breaking down all the food scraps produced in the cafeteria, the student residence, and at the homes of staff and students who participate in the home program. The maintenance of the compost has created two student work-study positions annually. The students are responsible for weighing and adding food waste to the compost bin, cleaning the bins for redistribution around the school and residence, keeping track of the compost pile's temperature (which should ideally be 120 degrees Fahrenheit), and mixing the compost twice per week by pushing the auger around – similar to how a kitchen mix-master functions.

Last year, the finished compost was used in the Mir Centre for Peace community garden.

Earthtub Making a Difference

The 2013/2014 school year was the compost's third year of operation at the college. There were a few minor setbacks such as the breakdown of the heating cable at the bottom of the tub that helps warm the compost during the winter, but overall it was a successful year.

The combined mass of the organics collected from the residence and the cafeteria over the year came to a total of 3364.3 lbs, and the total mass collected from the home compost program was 1314.5 lbs. The maximum temperature that the compost pile reached was 162 degrees Fahrenheit on October 9, 2013... that's a steamy pile! After the compost had finished curing over the spring and early summer, it was used for landscaping on campus and was offered to staff and students who were interested in taking a bucket home for their garden.

The compost program is up and running again for a fourth season. If you don't have a backyard compost at home, maybe this is the year to challenge yourself to save your organics from the garbage can and recycle those nutrients back into the soil!

Check out the posters around school to find out when the Earthtub is open for home-compost drop-off.


For more information contact Holly Shively.