The Green Gorilla initiative conducts compost pilot at Skyline

Miguel Garcia, TSV Staff Writer

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There’s a group of people called the “Green Gorillas,” who you may have spotted in the cafeteria wearing bright neon green shirts standing by the trash cans, that are a part of the sustainability plan on campus and seek to make students aware of composting.

According to Richard Hsu, the sustainability coordinator, the sustainability plan began last year and covers a wide range of subjects including: curriculum development around sustainability, reducing energy usage, and reducing water usage, and reducing the amount of waste that’s being generated into our landfills.

Their main goal at the moment is to segregate compost from the trash properly. Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment. The group is gathering enough data to prove that implementing a compost system really does matter.

“Instead of throwing everything into landfill, we’re reusing the compostable material and turning it back into soil. Using this to grow fresh crops, produce, things like that.”

The group is a waste divergent initiative that is part compost pilot and part peer education program.

“The goal of this experiment is to gain data just to prove our case that it would be better to make composting,” Michael Sessa, a Green Gorilla member, said. “It would just divert a whole lot of trash.”

The Green Gorillas are the ones making Skyline students aware of the compost bin and its purpose, diverting the potential compostable trash into its proper place.

They also have another goal to educate the students of Skyline College of how composting works and how important it is to segregate trash properly.

The Green Gorillas have definitely raised awareness in the past few weeks and they still are, with students becoming more and more aware of segregating their trash properly.

Many enthusiastic students have joined the Green Gorillas, including Joseph Hendricks, an Organic Chemistry major, heard about the program through one of his professors. Now, he’s raising awareness not only at Skyline, but even in his own community where he started composting his trash too.

Aside from the goals that the program has, the students have their own personal goals to achieve through composting and recycling properly. But they aren’t only limited to composting, they also try to reduce their water usage and energy usage.

According to Hsu, at least 25 percent of the school’s water usage goes to irrigation, and it’s one of their goals to reduce that amount.

Hendricks also added that the toilets in building four actually have two different flush cycles. You push the knob down to do a two-flush cycle to get rid of solid waste, and push it up to do a one-flush cycle to get rid of liquid waste.

After the past few weeks of the Green Gorillas objective, they have raised awareness among Skyline students regarding composting. According to Sessa, in the first few weeks, he had to stop a little over five people to talk to them about composting, but after the past few weeks the number decreased to about two or three people. He’s hopeful that he wouldn’t have to stop people anymore in the future.

“About 30 percent of people just kind of walk and hand me their trash and go ‘uh-huh,'” Hendricks said. “I would say about 70 percent are actually receptive to listen to me.”

The Sustainability Plan still has future plans along with the Green Gorillas, and one of them is to present this data to the city, and hopefully get the entire district to become aware of compost trash.