Club Champions Sustainable Practices through Composting Projects

Sustainability Club members prepare a compost heap.

Article by Robbie Cordova, Sustainability Club Vice Chair.

Behind the Downing Planetarium Museum, the Fresno State Sustainability Club is turning green food waste into rich soil.

The dedicated group of students and alums is making strides in sustainability and climate action through a project that seeks more harmony between humans and the environment. 

These initiatives, encompassing composting, growing climate-appropriate plants, and removing grass, are set to improve the university’s environment while managing waste.

Composting: Turning Waste into Resource

Under the leadership of Conor Righetti, a Fresno State alumnus with a degree in Pure Mathematics, the composting effort has already yielded piles of rich dirt ready for use. 

As a part of the California Climate Action Corps (CCAC), Righetti and AmeriCorps Fellows are collecting fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, and coffee grounds from the University Dining Hall and Juice It Up store at the USU building to create weekly compost piles weighing around 500 pounds.

Righetti’s team is enthusiastic about completing their first pile by early December, marking a significant milestone in sustainable waste management.

Cultivating Climate-Appropriate Plants

Fresno State students Hillary Rodriguez, an industrial technology major, and Cody Nelson, studying agricultural mechanics, are leading a groundbreaking initiative focusing on replacing water-intensive grass with climate-appropriate plants across the campus. These plants, native to the Central Valley, are less demanding regarding water usage and provide essential habitats for pollinators and other insects, bolstering local biodiversity.

In collaboration with the Plant Science department and utilizing the Horticultural Greenhouse, this project aligns closely with Fresno State’s commitment to sustainability and responsible water use.

Grass Removal for a Greener Campus

Biology major Stephanie Marquez is spearheading the grass removal project. This initiative involves replacing ornamental grass areas with mulch and, eventually, the climate-appropriate plants cultivated by Rodriguez and Nelson. This effort is not only about enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the campus but also about reducing water usage and promoting ecological balance.

A Sustainable Future

These projects, ongoing for the next few years, are poised to substantially contribute to reducing water use and diverting waste from landfills. They represent a proactive approach by Fresno State in addressing climate change and fostering a sustainable relationship with the environment. 

Sustainability Club members prepare a new compost.
Sustainability Club members prepare a new compost using fruits donated by university establishments. | Photo by Maurice O. Ndole