The Krishna Lunch program, which serves thousands of vegetarian meals on the University of Florida campus each week,has announced a pilot project to collect all its waste for composting.
Beginning March 15, 2010, the Krishna House student center, sponsor of Krishna Lunch, will collect and transport lunch waste to Jet Compost, a composting company located in northern Alachua County.
Krishna Lunch began at UF's Plaza of the Americas in 1971. In response to growing numbers and environmental concerns, the program switched to biodegradable corn, sugarcane, and grass reed plates, cups, and forks in 2008.
Efforts to have the waste composted through UF's Sustainability Club were stalled, as reported by a local newspaper in 2009. Jet Compost owner Harry Windle saw the article and offered to use the waste to test the company's new rotary composter.
"The new unit has a rotating aerated drum that allows complete aerobic decomposition," Windle says, "and the Krishna Lunch waste should produce excellent compost. We are openly seeking other community partners with
biodegradable waste as well, and would like to work with the university."
Continuation of the pilot project will depend on the cooperation of the UF students and staff who frequent the Krishna Lunch, says UF alum Andres Salim, 22, administrative assistant at the Krishna House. "If enough people place their plates and scraps in the green trash cans we'll be setting around the Plaza," says Salim, "we will appeal to the University to reduce or eliminate the clean-up fees we currently pay them. That will make the program sustainable."
Chris Cano, UF Senior and member of Gators for a Sustainable Campus admits: “I’ve always felt a little guilty about throwing my plates away so I’m excited to learn about the new composting initiative. Sustainability is an important value of the UFcommunity so I have no doubt that students will appreciate the effort to make Krishna Lunch more environmentally friendly.”
"One of the reasons we serve Krishna Lunch is to encourage environmental care," says Krishna House chaplain Carl Woodham, 55. "According to a recent University of Chicago study, replacing a non-vegetarian meal with a vegetarian alternative spares the earth 2.5 pounds of greenhouse gas. Composting plates and cups produces a beneficial, organic fertilizer and reduces land-fill waste. It's a natural extension of the Krishna Lunch experience."
In many parts of India, vegetarian meals are served on banana leaf plates and clay cups, which go directly to compost piles after use. The Krishna Lunch program in Gainesville hopes to contribute to ecological awareness by composting waste as it is done where the Krishna movement began.
If you are interested in composting with Jet Compost, contact Harry Windle at firstname.lastname@example.org.