"Food waste, paper waste, that's a huge portion of what we send to the landfill," Hendrickson said.
Starting last week, green bins were placed in the Tivoli Student Union's Food Court. Thousands of students eat there each day from one the colleges on Auraria: Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State College of Denver, and University of Colorado Denver. Hendrickson hopes to keep thousands of pounds from going into landfills.
"A lot of us care about the environment. We care about being more sustainable in our daily lives," Hendrickson said. "When it comes to that trash can just being there, it's so easy just to let it go."
In 2004, students voted to assess a $10 fee on themselves to create the Sustainability Campus Program which placed recycling bins across Auraria and purchased wind energy credits. Now, the SCP is promoting this campaign "Auraria Composts!"
"I'm not sure if there are many schools in the nation that can say that they have a dedicated fund that's just for sustainability of this size," Jonathan Raabe, president of the Sustainable Campus Program, said. "There's a whole group of colleges moving in this direction, but we're definitely one of the national leaders."
Hendrickson and other students are standing by the compost bins in the food court. They're educating people on the practice of composting food waste, paper and napkins to create fertilizer, conserve irrigated water, and prevent erosion of soils.
Hendrickson believes that he and other students can change the habits of their classmates.
"What's left going in the landfill comes down to maybe a fork, a plastic fork," Hendrickson said. "By the time they get to the trash can, they've got nothing left in their hands. It's quite a surprise."
Students eating lunch on Tuesday were surprised to be greeted by Hendrickson and other members of Compost Auraria.
"Yes, it's definitely a lifestyle change being able to know what goes where, but I think it's doable," Nicole Garth, a Metro State student, said.
Hendrickson says, so far, it is working.
"In the past five days, this has accounted for about 1,000 pounds in food and paper waste," Hendrickson said.
He hopes to someday make this a campus-wide initiative in every building across Auraria. He says this is something students are passionate about.
"It gives us a sense of ownership," Hendrickson said. "Students created this program. Students are funding it. This is democracy in action."
(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)