Micheltorena Composting and Striving Towards Less Waste – BUCKETS AT A TIME

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During the beginning of this year, we had some pretty big goals. The first to increase our composting and second to start recycling at the lunch line.

I think for a minute everyone agreed we were all crazy for attempting to change the automated culture of disposing our food. Composting in theory is wonderful, but it’s hard. I mean, sweating, breaking up scraps, teaching kids how to balance a bin. It’s hard! but it’s possible!

Part of our curriculum through Enrich LA is to teach about soil, soil conservation, nutrients in soil, and compost. Once kids start learning that our food doesn’t just ‘go away’ the kids are so interested in completing the cycle. Starting from consuming a banana, to breaking it up into small parts to taking it to the compost bin.

We are so fond of our bin, of turning our bin and balancing our bin that we starting naming the worms. To go from week 1 when kids would squeal at the sight of grubs to now, just turning the bin, separating food and turning compost.

Over the last 2 months, we’ve really ramped up our efforts. Rather than being happy with composting, we’ve been able to create a baseline for our composting. We’ve purchased a scale and we’ve been tracking the amount we divert from the landfill. Previously, on an good week we would compost 7 lbs. of food waste. After we got the scale, we were able to have the kids visualize and write down how many lbs of waste we’re diverting. We’ve been able to increase from 7lbs. to 14lbs. all the way to 30 lbs on a weekly basis. Previously, we were able to cycle through one bin, now, we are going through 2 bins a week.

Ms. Likovich’s class weighing in our progress

 

After we weigh the food waste, we’ve been helping the process by breaking up the scraps into pieces that are from .5-1″ – the kids really enjoy this process because it helps them see why compost bins succeed and why others fail. Getting them in their bodies also helps them focus for the science component of the lesson. Understanding how the compost is a living, breathing process helps us understand the differences between soil (healthy, nutrient rich) and dirt (deficient in minerals and moisture).

Aside from composting, we’ve worked with the school to bring in some recycling components. Now we are recycling milk cartons, the food trays and plastics. The cafe staff, lunch support and administration has been so supportive in getting the gears turning in our reduction of our landfill waste.

Come and support us, turn the compost with us!

 

Alex Arciniega

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  This Los Angeles version of spring is upon us, preemptively sending lettuces to bolt, premature marigolds to flower, and beans to pack-it-in. We’ve sadly had to watch (and taste) our super sweet snap peas go from juicy candy to cellulose-y seed bombs, but behold!—our leafy greens—rainbow chard, lacinato kale, and purple kale have become…

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