Nicodemus Wilderness Project
Nicodemus Wilderness Project
About Us Projects Education Links Volunteers Membership  
Nicodemus Wilderness Project


NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Tule Ponds, Fremont, California, USA

« ++ ·
· ++ »

Tule Ponds, Fremont, California, USA
View Smaller Image


Registered: December 2015
City/Town/Province: Fremont
Posts: 1
View this Member's Photo Gallery
Effects of Composting in My Community
Across the world, trash pollutes the Earth and accumulates in landfills and oceans. Composting is a great way to reuse or recycle our trash. It uses organic resources and natural processes to make our trash into something better for the environment. To reduce the amount of trash in my community, on behalf of the Nicodemus Wilderness Project, I started an Apprentice Ecologist Project. By making local composting bins, I converted normal, household wastes into rich, organic, mulch-like material that enhances regular soil and helps living things continue to grow. This compost was used to help the native plants grow in Tule Ponds and the plants surrounding the Tyson Lagoon. Composting allows us to reverse our predicted habit of “throwing out stuff” and actually use waste for a better cause.

My name is Sonia and I am currently a senior at Irvington High School and will be pursuing my education at Brown University in the fall. Science both feeds my curiosity and sustains my passion of finding solutions to problems. As a child, I spent afternoons constructing air gliders and solar cars, performing wacky experiments in the garage, and extracting scientific samples from the environment. Along with my passion for science, I developed a deep-rooted interest in our environment when conducting scientific experiments out in the field in my backyard of the California hills and marshes. As I grew up, I developed a deeper interest in science and became involved in actively making a difference through community service projects. Based on the devastating degradation of the environment I saw in my community on a day-to-day basis, this past year, I started an Apprentice Ecologist project to reduce the amount of trash my city produced through composting.
Every year in the United States, 230 million tons of waste is produced. Less than one fourth is recycled, and the rest ends up in our landfills. In our own community, we have a local landfill, Zanker Road Landfill, which is located in San Jose. Seventy percent of the waste that ends up in the landfill can be reused or recycled. Not only does this waste stay in the landfills, after a period of time the plastics in the landfill start to leak hazardous chemicals into the ground and surface water. Economic, public health, and environmental problems also come with landfills. The solution to this problem lies in one of the easiest and cost effective ways to reuse and recycle: composting.
Composting is a fast and easy way to recycle garden and home waste. To help reduce waste locally, we decided to make composting bins at Tule Ponds, a local reserve that helps conserve natural resources. There are many types of composting bins, but the bins we used were large foursquare bins. Tule Ponds, gave us the simple resources to make our compost (soil, shovels, water, worms, and bins). It also provided us a place to make the compost and then distribute the compost to the surround native plant species. To make the process more efficient and less time consuming, we did a specific type of composting called hot composting. Hot composting is monitored pile of the compost that is mixed with each temperature change. The main difference between hot composting and regular composting is the in hot composting the compost reaches high temperatures and is ready in less than a month. Hot composting requires a high nitrogen level to make sure the compost pile stays hot. The high nitrogen level is kept by adding “greens” to the compost pile. The greens include leaves, weeds, and other green plant wastes. The specific ratio by volume should be two nitrogen parts to one part of oxygen. The ratio ensures that the perfect balance of nutrients will be added to the compost. To maximize the amount of compost we make, we made two bins. Each bin was made the exact same way, except for the varying waste and microorganism numbers.
There are many steps involved in making a compost bin. Before anything was added to the compost bin, plastic coated chicken wire was lined on the bottom of the bin, to aerate or allow the passage of air into the compost bin and prevent the contents from falling out. The compost was not simply made in one day, they took a course from 5-8 weeks for the waste to finally be transformed into compost. The first layer of the compost bin was 6 inches of green waste, and then the following layer was 2 inches of brown waste. The green waste consists of kitchen scraps, like coffee grounds, eggshells, and vegetable or fruit wastes. The brown waste consists of dried branches or twigs, leaves, and paper. We continued to layer the wastes in this same way until the compost bin was filled.
There are many factors involved in making compost efficiently and in the best possible form. To speed up the rate of composting, the compost had to be turned over to let the materials air out. This released heat and allowed oxygen (that bacteria needs) to come in. Another thing that helps the composting process, is keeping the compost at a good moisture level. If the compost dries out, then the bacteria will die, and composting will stop. Usually, dehydrated compost is a problem during the summer months. The lack of moisture causes the compost to decompose very slowly and you will not receive as many nutrients as you could have, if you had a moisturized compost pile correctly. Another problem is that usually during the winter season, the compost becomes too moist for the bacteria to function. Since our compost was made in the summer season, keeping our compost moist was more of a challenge than too much moisture. To maintain the moisture, black lids were placed on the compost bins. These lids also controlled the temperature in the bin, an important aspect in keeping ideal microorganism activity. Microorganism activity is the best when the contents of the compost bin are between 42 and 53 degrees Celsius. To make sure this temperature was kept throughout the composting process, we used soil thermometers and checked the temperature. The composting process after a period of 6 weeks started to slow down and cool. Once this happened, the bacterial activity stopped and the compost was ready to use. The finished compost was then treated like mulch and spread on top of the soil in Tule Ponds.
Earth has natural resources that can be used both positively and negatively. Composting serves as a positive and an environmentally friendly way of recycling and using organic material to recreate the natural resources we need. Composting provides natural fertilizer without the harmful effects of unnatural pesticides and methane gas. Composting can also reduce the amount of recyclable waste found in landfills. Statistically speaking, Americans send thirty-one million tons of food waste to landfills each year. Not only does that take up space in landfills, but the increase of landfills causes the release of methane gas, which takes part in the cause of global warming.
Composting is a small step in making a great effect in the environment. It is something anyone can take part in and doesn't require much either. As individuals we can be proactive and make small changes in our life for the better of the environment. For example, instead of throwing away your garbage and garden materials collect them and add them to your own compost bin. In addition to being helpful as individuals we as a whole community can remind each other and inform others of useful ways we can help the environment.
Date: December 28, 2015 Views: 5067 File size: 9.8kb, 885.0kb : 2592 x 1944
Hours Volunteered: 83
Volunteers: 6
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 13 to 18
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 6.75
Print View
Show EXIF Info