Dana Composting Crew

Welcome to the Dana Compost Crew’s composting and zero waste webpage! We are a group of students at the School of Natural Resources and Environment seeking to promote the use of composting and reduction of waste in our building. Below you can find details on:

  • How to compost in the Dana building (COMING SOON!)
  • How to coordinate a zero waste event in the building

SNRE strongly encourages composting at all food events in the Dana Building. The material below describes how to make your event zero waste. For questions, don’t hesitate to email: DanaCompostCrew@umich.edu.

Steps to Making Your Event Zero Waste

  1. Reserving a Room
  2. Ordering Food
  3. Ordering Compostable Supplies or Using Reusable Supplies
  4. Setting up Waste Station(s) & Organizing Volunteers
  5. Spread the word
  6. Post-event Clean-up

1.  Reserving a Room

To host an event with food in Dana, you must first reserve a room through the Office of Academic Programs (OAP 1520 Dana) by emailing snre.rooms@umich.edu and cc’ing danacompostcrew@umich.edu. In your email please include:

  • Event date and time
  • Anticipated number of attendees
  • Type of food and drinks that will be served as well as the expected caterer (e.g., breakfast & coffee from Afternoon Delight)
  • Type of room you would like to reserve (e.g., conference room for 8 people, large open space such as the Ford Commons, etc.)

2. Ordering & Receiving Food

Food vendors and caterers are critical to your event being zero waste. Planning and coordinating with them in advance helps them provide ONLY compostable materials with your order and minimizes compost contamination.

When speaking with food vendors:

  • Clarify that your event needs to be zero waste and there MUST be only compostable supplies (plates, utensils, wrapping, etc.).
  • Request compostable plates, utensils, etc. if your event is not able to use reusable-ware.
    • Some caterers already offer this — see Zero Waste-Friendly Caterer List for local caterers that are familiar with U-M processes and supplies needed for a Zero Waste event. You should feel free to amend this list as you learn more about the listed vendors and discover or encourage additional zero waste-friendly vendors.
  • Confirm that all delivered materials are compostable BEFORE the delivery person leaves.
    • If you find any non-compostable materials, send them back with the delivery person. For unavoidable contaminants such as cling wrap on large platters, remove them from the guest areas and ensure they are put in the trash
    • Take a few minutes to meet with the event coordinators, servers and/or clean-up crew of your zero waste event. Identify and share with them any unavoidable items that are non-compostable that should be disposed of in the trash (e.g. individual condiment packets, granola wrappers, etc.). This brief meeting is key to minimizing contamination.

3. Using Reusable Supplies or Ordering Compostable Supplies

For vendors that don’t offer reusable-ware or compostables, you can borrow reusable supplies (block-M plates, serving utensils, etc.) from the OAP office (1520 Dana), contact a campus resource, or procure your own compostables.

  • Reusable supplies borrowed from the OAP office should be reserved in advance. Please wash and dry borrowed materials before returning to them.
  • Compostables MUST be BPI or ASTM D6400 or D6868 certified compostable. Compostables can be purchased from BGreen (2111 Packard), where all materials are certified compostable, or some compostables can also be found at Lucky’s (1919 S. Industrial) or Whole Foods (3135 Washtenaw or 990 W Eisenhower).
  • For student-run events, compostables can also be requested for FREE through the Student Sustainability Initiative during the school year.
  • For Faculty & Staff events needing compostables, you can reach out to the Office of Campus Sustainability (recycle@umich.edu).

4. Setting-up Waste Stations

You or the event staff will be responsible for putting out the waste stations. A station = a group of 3 bins (1-recycling, 1-composting, and 1-trash).

  • Build waste stations
  • Gather a group of three bins from the reserved room or nearby areas - one each for compost (green bag), recycling(blue bag), and trash (white clear bag)
  • Arrange all three bins in together, in a location that makes the most sense for your event. For large events, put out multiple stations.
  • COMPOST - Since composting is not building-wide yet, find any metal bin to temporarily re-purpose as the compost bin.
  • Line this bin with a green compost bag, found in the first floor Kitchenette drawer directly under the microwave. Note, these bags have a slight green tinge.
  • Cover bin labels with the magnetic/peel & stick compost signs located near the compost bags in the Kitchenette drawer directly under the microwave.
  • RECYCLE - find a container already marked Recycling and make sure it’s lined with a blue bag.
  • TRASH - find a container already marked Trash and make sure it’s lined with a clear bag.

Example Waste Station:

  • Organize event volunteers
    • For events held in Ford or Dow Commons, one volunteer from the event needs to be at each station to help attendees properly sort their waste into the correct bins. Each bin volunteer must watch this 5 min training video in advance of the event. Please email danacompostcrew@umich.edu with any questions.
    • Event coordinators are responsible for ensuring their volunteers are trained and reminding them of any potential contaminants at the event (e.g. condiment packets, non-compostable wrappers, etc.).
  • Educate attendees
    • Make an announcement at the beginning of the event to share the news that this event is a Zero Waste Event. Explain how attendees should properly sort their waste or ask “event volunteers” for assistance.

5. Spread the Word about Your Zero Waste Event!

  • Take pictures at your event
  • Tweet about your event with tags such as #UMCompost #DanaCompost @PlanetBlue @UM_SSI @SNRE

6. Post-event Clean-up

  • It’s important to take a few minute to check for contamination so that only compostable materials are in the compost “green” bag.
    • If there is some contamination, take the compost bag out to the compost bin located in the dock area between the Dana building and Randall Laboratory. It is best accessible from the east exit of the building (see map below for bin location).
    • If the compost in the bag is not clean, do your best to remove non-compostables before depositing the compost bag in the loading dock compost bin. There are gloves in the drawer labeled Compost Supplies in the Dana Kitchenette.
    • If the bag is too contaminated to remove all the non-compostables, place the entire bag in the trash dumpster.
  • Once the compost bag has been to the taken outside compost bin, remove temporary labels from the metal bin(s) used as the compost bin(s) for the event waste station(s) and return them to the drawer under the microwave in the Dana Kitchenette.

The Dana Compost Crew would like to express our deepest thanks for your support in helping Dana achieve its waste goals!