At tiny Northland College in Ashland, on the shores of Lake Superior, most if not all students have a compost bucket in their dorm room or apartment. Once or twice a week, community residents, in addition to students, come to campus with buckets of food waste to dump in the enormous campus composter, which turns it into nutrient-rich fertilizer.
The liberal arts school with about 580 students is staking its future on environmental science. Northland in 1971 became one of the first colleges in the nation to offer an environmental studies degree. And its board of trustees just made sustainability its niche mission to attract more students in an increasingly competitive market.
“We’re an environmental college living our sustainable mission every day,” the [statement explaining full-spectrum sustainability] says. “What sets us apart from other colleges and universities is our commitment to deliver a liberal arts education with critical ‘green skills’ that employers and graduate schools are looking for.”
Sierra magazine this fall included Northland on its “Coolest Schools” list for commitment to the environment and sustainability initiatives, ranking it 55th overall, 14th among undergraduate colleges and first in Wisconsin.
“I think when students come to Northland, they realize it’s easy to live more sustainably when you live in a culture and environment that supports it and makes it a norm,” said Northland Student Association President Jenise Swartley, a senior from suburban Philadelphia. “These decisions quickly become part of your daily consciousness.”
And yes, she has a compost bucket under the kitchen sink in her off-campus apartment. Read the entire story.