Dougherty is Xavier’s newly hired sustainability coordinator who’s charged with reducing the size of the University’s carbon footprint and saving the planet. It’s no small task, but in her first four months she’s not only made the University green, but earned Xavier some green as well. She arranged for all the food waste from the cafeteria to go to a composting facility, created a new revenue source by recycling cardboard, lowered Xavier’s waste-hauling costs and reduced the stream of garbage bound for the landfill by 15 tons.
Take that, Al Gore. The net savings to Xavier is between $1,000 and $1,500 a month, she says, which is about 10 percent of the monthly garbage bill for the whole campus.
“That’s what sustainability is. When you practice it, it saves money and protects the environment.”
By separating the food waste from other cafeteria trash, Dougherty says, they could see that a third of the overall waste was cardboard.
“We got two companies to come in and tell us how much money they would pay us for the cardboard, and that recovery is paying for the food waste hauling,” she says.
The food waste is scraped into bins that are kept in cold storage and then trucked to Marvin’s Organic Gardens in Lebanon, Ohio, where it is composted with other regional waste, including the Cincinnati Zoo’s “zoo doo,” and turned into rich organic soil.
“You can see the smarter we get about our waste, the more that gets diverted from the landfill as we find better things to do with it.”