Every earthworm knows that May 29th is National Learn About Composting Day!
Compost is made by combining certain types of waste — like food scraps, leaves and wood chips — and exposing them to air and water over time to allow them to decompose. Once these organic materials are mixed together, microbes and bacteria get to work breaking down what we’d usually throw away. After this new material is dark in color, without any remnants of food or waste leftover, your compost is ready to add to soil.
Waste not, want not! Compost is an ecological powerhouse helping to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, contributes to richer, healthier soil in our gardens and farms, and is a great way to repurpose food waste and lessen landfill use. Composting is also a fun, hands-on way to get your family involved in outdoor learning.
Whether you are a composting champion or are interested in learning how to start making the most out of your family’s food waste, use the resources, videos and activities below to learn more!
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Breaking Down the Science of Soil & Food Waste
Kids Go Green: Reducing Food Waste
Learn about the impact of food waste on the environment in this video animation from WNET. In this clip, discover ways to reduce food waste. Use the discussion questions and teaching tips for ideas on using this video to help students consider ways to conserve food.
Soil Composition | Think Garden
This video from KET’s Think Garden collection explains why soil is more than just dirt. Learn how to tell if soil is rich and healthy or lacking in nutrients, which nutrients are essential for plant growth, and what happens if plants lack these nutrients. Also find out how to improve soil with crop rotation and by weeding, what compost is, and how to use it in a garden.
Learn how to set up a composting bin to watch organic waste be recycled by worms, and how to set up a composting bin of your own, creating worm castings that are high in nutrition and can be used in gardens in this video from WyomingPBS.
Why Soil Matters
Learn why soil is the key to stopping land degradation and increasing farm productivity in this PBS Wisconsin Education resource. Human activity and climate change are degrading once-productive farmland, decreasing the amount of food that can be grown. In this QUEST video, Will Allen explains how increasing soil fertility will ensure our future food security.
Teens Start Composting Business to Combat Climate Change | Adirondack 2030
Explore the role composting can play in combating climate change. Follow Lake Placid High School students Astrid Livesey Saint-Pierre and Ellen Lansing as they promote composting to better our environment through the creation of a non-profit composting business. Founded with the help of their mentor, Environmental Science Teacher Tammy Morgan, they show us that you are never too young to make a difference and that the goal of healing the planet can be broken down into small, manageable steps.
Activities & Games
Super Cleaner Upper Game
Cat is pitching in to keep the community clean! In this game from The Cat in the Hat, your child can hunt and classify items to recycle or compost.
Make a Composter
What happens to a pile of old leaves outside when you add a dash of time, maybe some worms, and a healthy splash of moisture? Make soil perfect for a garden just like Daisy’s from Nature Cat!
Worms at Work!
Get close-up and grossed-out as you learn about the wonderful way worms work in our environment. Learn vermicomposting, and dig into how an author may write text to support his or her point of view.
Can You Dig It? Digital Game | Martha Speaks
In this Martha Speaks interactive story students discover how plants and animals depend on each other in an ecosystem. Fallen leaves decay; earthworms eat the leaves and fertilize the dirt. Then trees use the fertilized soil to grow.
Cyberchase | Trash Dash Game
In this video from Cyberchase, teams compete to score as many points as possible by sorting objects into bins for reuse, recycling, compost, or landfill and completing obstacles along the way. After watching, use the associated discussion questions and try the printable Trash Dash activity at home.
Get Waste Deep With Local Projects & Resources
AdkAction: Compost for Good Project
The goal of AdkAction’s Compost for Good project is to help Adirondack communities turn food and other organic “wastes” into high quality compost. This process keeps nutrients in the community, which builds local resilience, heals soils, and helps reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Start your composting journey with the Compost Cafés video series, find a composter location near you, and learn how to make a 3-bin compost system of your very own!
Cornell College of Agriculture & Life Sciences: Healthy Soils, Healthy Communities Project
The Healthy Soils, Healthy Communities project is a research and education partnership with New York’s urban gardeners and others interested in healthy gardening. Find key resources about backyard composting, or composting in schools, community gardens, or other community settings from the Cornell Waste Management Institute and Cornell Cooperative Extension.