Green Tips: Marigold giveaway and composting at Penn State

marigold plants in newspaper pots for Earth Day giveaway

Earth Day is just around the corner on Saturday, April 22. To help celebrate, the University Libraries Green Committee will give away free marigold seedlings in the Franklin Atrium, Pattee Library, University Park between 2-4 p.m. on Thursday, April 20.

The seedlings are potted in old Daily Collegian pages holding organic soil mixed with a bit of Penn State compost, so they can be planted directly in the ground. The newspaper potting will biodegrade naturally as the plant takes root and leave you with a beautiful marigold of your very own.

This Green Committee event not only brings a splash of color into spring; it’s also a way to promote sustainability and bring attention to Penn State’s composting efforts.

According to the College of Agricultural Sciences, “composting utilizes the natural processes of decay to convert organic materials such as leaves, grass and food scraps into a valuable humus-like material.” This compost then provides valuable nutrients to plants. Anything that is organic can be composted. That includes paper towels and tissues, wooden picks and stirrers, coffee grounds and filters, paper plates and pizza boxes, and utensils made from biodegradable plastics (check the label if you’re not sure).

The most important compostable material to Penn State is probably food. Food waste is the number-one contributor to Penn State’s waste stream, so put your food waste in the green composting bins instead of the trash whenever you can. That includes meat and bones, which (unlike backyard composting bins) can be composted at Penn State due to the size and scale of our composting operations. Once the waste is totally composted, it’s blended and stored at the Organic Materials Processing and Education Center before being distributed by landscaping crews all over Penn State, beautifying not just the campus but also your marigold pot!

For more information about composting at PSU, visit Penn State also offers lots of information about how you can start composting at home at

Happy Earth Day from the Green Committee!

– submitted by J. Harlan Ritchey, University Libraries Green Committee