Composting: More Than Meets the Eye
By Adam Cagliuso
I never knew what composting really was until I participated in it during my service learning this past semester. My service class was IND 214: Environment Education in the Community. When I was in high school we discussed composting, but never participated in it. For example, I was aware that in agriculture (farming) they use compost, but never how exactly it was made.
Basically, compost is poop, which everyone would think is really gross -- but it’s quite interesting. Organisms, usually worms, are placed inside a warm, well-ventilated container. The worms mainly used are called Red Wigglers and European Night Crawlers.
To produce the compost, food is placed inside the container with newspaper cuttings. The worms use these as a source for fiber and ventilation for the worms. Following this step, dirt is sprinkled on top of the newspaper cuttings combined with water, creating levels of newspaper, for the worm and food.
Certain types of food must be placed in the container or else the worms will not eat it and the container can begin to smell foul. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, anything made out of flour, egg shells, coffee grinds and boxed foods are great for the worms. Foods to avoid are meat, bones, fats, fish, dairy and greases. The worms eat the food and the end product of their waste is compost.
The best part about discovering composting was creating a compost bin with the children from Martin Luther King School. The whole process was explained by a staff member from Reinstein woods. The reactions were quite amusing: seeing some kids scream and others wanting to touch all the worms in the compost. Their attention was fully locked on making the container, which was also great to observe.
The creation of the compost taught the students, and especially me, the way compost can recycle products. The mostly organic foods that are put into the container are digested into rich compost. The compost can then be used as soil to plant fruits and vegetables. By enforcing this, recycling will cut back on the use of placing wastes inside landfills and will help create more organic foods.
Composting makes a great impact on the environment more than I ever imagined with the circle of life. Even though at first glance the appearance of compost doesn’t look too wonderful, it helps grow flavorful plants. So, do Mother Nature a favor and help grow some compost. She will appreciate it in the long run, and so will you.