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  • Writer's pictureEllie Hart

UNT We Mean Green Fund Compost Initiative

Wholistic initiative built towards supporting students desires to have a green footprint on their college campus.



Executive Summary


Through user surveys and interviews, we found that students at the University of North Texas desire ways to increase their personal sustainable practices during their time living on campus. As UNT is a leader in national collegiate environmental efforts, students must have ways to continue these efforts in campus residence halls.


Composting is an effective way to lessen CO2 and methane emissions and is a viable option is creating a campus culture of sustainability due to the ease of onboarding students to begin composting.


We created a campus outreach and composting program to educate students on the benefits of composting and reduce campus carbon and methane emissions.


The Problem


Food waste makes up 21% of the municipal solid waste in the US. When food waste and other compostable materials sit in landfills they create methane. A gas that has 80 times the warming power of CO2. Landfills account for more than 15 percent of methane emissions.


UNT boast its dedication to to being a leader in environmental responsibility. Currently UNT falls short of teaching students how to maintain a sustainable lifestyle during their time on campus.


Our Solution


Create a campus outreach program to inform and educate students and staff on the positive effects of composting for their campus and its role in reducing our campus’ environmental impact.


Research


22 UNT students were asked about their compost knowledgeability, recycling participation, and overall involvement in sustainable activities.


The following insights were then used to frame the composting campus infrastructure:

  • UNT students many surveyed believe composting attracts pests and has an odor, indicating some hesitation.

  • Students predominantly use the trash to dispose of waste, and recycle is there is a bin for it.

  • Most students surveyed hold the mental model that composting is to collect food scraps to decompose, typically in a pile to make soil.

  • Less than half surveyed have ever tried composting.

Many students say due to space concerns, pests, living in a dorm/apartment, and lack of knowledge and the lack of a garden they have not composted.


We also ran a competitor analysis of current composting groups in Denton, Texas to determine what solution was most feasible for a college campus in the area.



Campus Infrastructure

If students would desire to participate, they can reach out to We Mean Green Fund and would receive a branded bucket to begin composting from WMGF.


Students will dispose of the materials collected in a WMGF managed composting bin in the back of each residence hall. The composted materials could then be used for the community garden and off campus sustainability initiatives UNT provides.


Composting buckets would be returned to WMGF at the end of the

school year when students move out.


The overall principle for these buckets is illustrated within this diagram: put it away, leave it be and use it!


Promotional Box


Through our research we found that when incentivized, students were much more likely to participate in a campus-wide program. So we mapped out the contents of a welcome box to be given to students to introduce them to the idea of composting. This box would include a brochure on composting, posters, coloring pages stickers, journals, colored pencils, and native flowers seed packets. The price per box would be relatively minimal as a majority of the product were paper based and could be printed on campus and could be modified to other promotional products of the we mean green fund.


Design Decisions


For the promotional materials and welcome box, we decided to create a psychedelic 1960s and 1970s counterculture look.


This look ties back to a time where environmentalism and the hippie movement was at its initial peak and is easily connected to a love for the planet.


We think this ties in effectively for UNT students to become involved with the university’s many environmental initiatives and to garner excitement for reducing our personal and university wide environmental impact.


Prototyping


After confirming the direction of the art style we wanted to proceed with, we then created the digital mockups of both the welcome box that will house the promotion materials such as the eco-friendly interactive composting journal and the box design.


We then created a physical mid-fidelity prototype of the welcome box to gauge student response and interactions with the welcome box for the first time.


Students were interested in the box due to the freebies, bright colors, and the look that seemed to be diverge from marketing from UNT or the We Mean Green Fund in the past.



Why Compost at UNT


In the end, we came to the conclusion that to continue to remain a leader in environmental action, UNT must offer a robust campus housing composting initiative to:


  • Allow students to get involved in sustainability initiatives and create a campus culture of environmental action

  • Lower campus carbon emissions

  • Provide enriched compost for UNT’s community garden and landscaping efforts



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