SNC Composting Program: Marina McCoy turns food waste into flowers

Composting is a system that transforms organic food waste into useable soil for growing plant species. For her senior project, Sierra Nevada College student Marina Mccoy has plans to incorporate a composting system at SNC.

Imagine if all of the apple cores, half-eaten muffins and cold macaroni noodles Sierra Nevada College students threw in trash cans were composted to grow flowers, fruits and vegetables. That’s the goal of Marina McCoy’s senior project, and if everything goes according to plan, her composting system will be implemented on SNC’s campus.

“My project is called the SNC Composting Program,” said McCoy. “We will be collecting the food waste and compostable products on campus and hauling them to Full Circle in Carson City to be composted.”

Once the system is up and running, a huge amount of SNC’s discarded food will be composted and used in gardens throughout the Tahoe Basin.

“The program diverts 40 percent of our waste away from landfills and into soil, reducing our carbon/methane footprint and increasing the environmental stewardship of the school,” McCoy said.   McCoy’s program will make it easy for students to recycle their leftovers.

“There will be two ways for students to compost on campus,” McCoy said. “Either in the Patterson Dining Hall or at events on campus. These are the two places that produce the most food waste at SNC.”

A bucket containing many of the compostable food waste products found at SNC
Marina McCoy
A bucket containing many of the compostable food waste products found at SNC

McCoy got the idea for a school-wide composting system while attending an Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference with a group of students this past fall.

“Composting is important because over 40 percent of food produced in America gets thrown away, which means all of the energy and resources that went into producing the food gets wasted as well,” McCoy said. “Having this program on campus will set our school up to become much more environmentally conscious.”

Although incorporating a compost system at SNC is an expensive project, McCoy is tackling it head on.

“I plan on raising the funds by applying for grants and scholarships in the Tahoe Basin and around the nation,” McCoy said.

In addition, McCoy has started a GoFundMe page where her passion for composting is gaining online momentum and raising a significant amount of money toward her goal.

“The GoFundMe page has been rather successful with donations from local community members, friends and family. I have been able to raise over $8,000 so far,” McCoy said. “I need about $1,000 to cover the start-up costs, then an additional $10,000 for operational costs.”

McCoy will be graduating this semester with a dual degree in Sustainability and in Ski Business and Resort Management.  She wants to leave a legacy of sustainable practices behind her.

“The SNC Composting Program will educate students on the importance of reducing their own food waste and inspire them to compost after they graduate or start their own sustainability initiative on campus,” McCoy said. “I hope this project gives students the confidence that they can also make a difference while they are at SNC.”

If you would like to donate to the SNC Composting Project, visit Marina McCoy’s GoFundMe page.