If you’ve been outside in the past three weeks, you’ve probably seen Jerry Langosta picking up leaves from Old Main’s lawn. But Langosta, a first-year from Portland, Oregon, isn’t collecting them for his scrapbook or science class. He’s placing them in the Campus Center’s compost bins.
“I was thrilled when I learned about Mac’s goal of being Zero-Waste by 2020,” said Langosta, sweeping up a pile of virgin maple leaves. “Then when I saw all this compostable material on Old Main’s lawn, it hit me. I’ve got an opportunity to change the world.”
Langosta has been entering the Campus Center for weeks now with armfuls of yellow, red, brown, and even orange leaves. His exploits have made him into something of a campus celebrity. Last week he was featured in The Mac Weekly as one of Macalester’s “Top 30 Under 30.”
Langosta, though, was oblivious to his uniqueness until recently. He wonders why more people aren’t collecting foliage.
“I see people, everyday, just walk on the sidewalks, and sometimes even through the lawn itself, and not pick up a single leaf and put it in the proper waste basket. Can you believe that?” Langosta said. “I was told that this was a green campus, that the students were environmentally and socially conscious. So why aren’t there more people composting leaves?”
“It’s not me that is odd, it’s them. All of them. I’m just trying to save the environment here.”
One obstacle in Langosta’s collection has been the wind’s stubborn insistence on making leaves fall from trees. He’s missed many-a-class due to his pickup efforts.
“They just keep coming!” Langosta said. “Where do all these leaves come from? I can tell you though, I’m looking forward to the winter for an easier time. Snow I can just shovel.”
His fellow students, too, have attempted to foil his collection.
“They shout things like ‘Leaf Boy’ and ‘You need to sleep.’ But I ignore them,” Langosta said. “Now I understand what Al Gore felt like when he came out with An Inconvenient Truth. I’m Al Gore now.”