Give Compost a Chance!

We are a student-run, student-funded organization here at UCSB that plays an active role in alternative campus waste management through composting, workshops, and our experimental, educational garden. We teach fellow students about reducing their own food waste that is sent to the landfill, in addition about how to reuse that waste to grow more food.

We’ve designed our site to be an informational resource about our services to the campus community and our best practices of composting and gardening.

We’re always happy to help, so please contact us if you have any questions!

Why We Care About Compost

There are several reasons why compost is so important to the student staff at Dept. of Public Worms.

First, our local Tajiguas Landfill opened in 1967 and is estimated to have about 11 years left before it will be considered full. Food waste comprises a substantial portion of the municipal waste stream that is easily diverted through landfills by waste reduction and alternatives like hot composting and vermicomposting in homes, schools, and businesses. As forward thinking University of California Students, we want to work towards making a difference on our campus and in our community in ways that make a big difference.

Second, in addition to reducing the amount of waste taking up space in the landfill, we focus our efforts on food waste because it is the primary trash component that leads to methane emissions from landfills. As the waste is continuously deposited and covered with soil, oxygen is sealed off from the trash, creating an anaerobic environment where microbes digest foods and create methane. Why is this a big deal? Even though Tajiguas is able to recover about 75% of the methane and generate electricity from the Compressed Natural Gas, the remaining 25% is released as a powerful Green House Gas into our atmosphere. Our efforts work towards reducing methane emissions, which has a huge potential to reduce our communities impact on Climate Change since methane has a global warming potential 72 times stronger than just carbon dioxide on a 20 year time scale according the IPCC. Since methane only stays in the atmosphere for about 12 years, there is a huge opportunity to reduce Green House Gasses in our atmosphere and see results quickly. By feeding worms we avoid virtually all emissions, and hot composting only emits small amounts of carbon dioxide, which is still the preferable alternative to methane.

Third, as quality fresh foods become more expensive and industrial agriculture becomes inreasingly dependent on synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, we are strong supporters of organic alternatives to enriching soils. Composting processes foods back into basic components that plants need to thrive, and worm castings are an even finer grade of compost can digest everything except hard seeds. Healthy soils are critical to growing plants for abundant produce, and when paired with alternative gardening methods like companion planting we can get even better produce with less chemical fertilizers and pesticides. By turning food waste into plant food to grow food, we create a closed-loop food system that is sustainable for the long term.

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