Oakland , CA
Leaf litter, food scraps turned into fertilizer. Media Academy’s garden club has started a compost bin to create fertilizer for organic plants by recycling dead leaves and greens. A compost bin is a waste container filled with recyclable food scraps and dirt that will break down to create fertilizer. By composting, students can recycle and reuse dead plants that would otherwise be useless. In about four weeks, the dead litter decomposes and turns into dirt abundant in nutrients for the school's organic plants. The garden club then can use fertilizer that is not only natural, organic and full of nutrients, but that is also completely free. A 36-pound bag of fertilizer can cost up to $12, according to Lowes.com. Media Academy garden teacher Matthew Green says anyone can start a compost bin at home. “I think people should compost if they have a garden,” said Green. “It’s a good way of recycling waste.” Different items can be used to create a compost bin, including common household objects such as buckets, plastic containers and garbage cans. A variety of objects can be composted, including leaves, greens, food scraps, coffee grounds, bread crusts, fruits, chocolate cookies, snow, paper towels, and even pet hair. Compost bins can vary in sizes. There are small bins for indoors and big containers for outdoors to create fertilizer for many plants. There are also different methods of compost. One type of compost is called aerobic compost, which is basically recyclable food and dirt. When composters use this method, they have to constantly mix the compost so that oxygen can help break it down. Another way to compost is by creating a compost bin and adding worms to it. Using worms can be a very effective way of break down food and nutrients to create a rich fertilizer, according to Green. As the worms begin to eat and process the waste, the compost begins to break down into fertilizer. The Media Academy compost bin uses aerobic compost. Students combine brown leaves, dead greens, coffee grounds, water and oxygen. The food scraps are already beginning to break down into dirt. "I like helping the environment," said junior Tony Mai, the garden club member in charge of the compost bin. The garden club doesn’t use the compost bin just to save money: students get to learn and create compost. “It’s more like a learning project to teach about compost,” said Green.