In the next several weeks, as the majority of students settle down to study for exams, members of McGill’s Gorilla Composting will have cause to celebrate. The student-run organization, founded in 2005, has successfully financed the purchase of a Big Hanna T240 composting machine, which will arrive on campus this month.
“It was all made possible by the initial contribution from the Students’ Society [of McGill University] and the Generations Pact of the government of Quebec,” said David Gray-Donald, coordinator of Gorilla Composting.
“We had the plans before that, but it was really that funding that gave the whole thing legitimacy,” he said. Other sponsors of the project include Environment Canada, the TD Friends of the Environment Fund, and McGill University Services.
A major challenge was convincing sponsors that the composter is hygienic.“Composting in general does not have a great reputation, especially in a downtown setting like this” explained Gray-Donald. “People associate it with garbage and rotting material.”
Several years ago, Gorilla Composting and McGill Food Services experienced difficulty when compost near Douglas Hall Residence became infested with raccoons and rodents. Although this was a different form of composting, Gray-Donald explained that it is the word “compost” that University Services associates with these problems.
“We spent a lot of time reassuring them that this is a different approach. It is better maintained by the coordinator of the project,” he said.
Gray-Donald indicated that Gorilla Composting is eagerly anticipating the positive effects of the T240. Food waste from Bishop Mountain Hall, Royal Victoria College, and Douglas Hall will soon be composted.
“Students in their first year will be exposed to this system where they learn that food waste is not garbage, that it’s a resource that can be used,” he said.
The machine’s arrival is a milestone in what Gray-Donald described as Gorilla Composting’s original aim: “to get composting into the institutions and have fun doing it.”