Teenage brothers lead by example in Miami and show why composting is important for the environment

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miami – Two recent reports from the Environmental Protection Agency revealed startling statistics. More than a third of the food produced in the United States is never eaten, and much of it ends up in landfills, where it produces harmful greenhouse gases.

Two South Florida teens are reversing this trend by collaborating on a community-based effort to educate and engage residents and business owners to switch to more environmentally friendly ways to manage food waste. We are working hard to make this happen.

In fact, brother and sister Thomas and Chloe Jimenez don’t just help wash the dishes at mealtimes, they’re actually saving the planet.

“Composting is great for the environment,” says Chloe Jimenez, a sophomore at Ransom Everglades School in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood. “Once you get used to it, it’s very easy.”

The brothers are avid composters, recycling food waste and turning it into natural fertilizer when mixed with other organic matter.

“It’s basically just a waiting game and the food breaks down into nutrient-rich soil,” Chloe Jimenez said.

The alternative is that all food waste goes directly to landfills, where the majority of food debris ends up.

Waste food debris that is typically sent to landfills accounts for 8% to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Francisco Torres runs Compost for Life, a community effort based in Miami. The sole mission of this activity is to get more people to compost and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that warm the planet.

“If you took all the food waste on the planet and put it into one country, that country would be the third largest emitter of (greenhouse gases) after the United States and China,” Torres said. said. “I think composting is one of the best things we can do for the environment. It’s so simple, and so powerful.”

Food scraps thrown into landfills pile up with other trash. Little or no oxygen passes through and methane is produced.

“It’s 21 times more harmful than carbon dioxide,” Torres said. “And it’s one of the worst gases that cause climate change.”

Approximately 40% of all food waste is compostable.

Combining these food scraps with other organic matter such as grass clippings and fallen leaves and mixing and aerating the pile regularly for 120 days allows oxygen to flow freely through the pile and produces little or no methane. It will not be.

“This is a natural process, and we are literally providing the right ingredients to the microorganisms so that the good microorganisms get activated,” Torres said.

The result is nutrient-rich soil without the need to add chemicals or fertilizers to crops or gardens, similar to the urban community farm in the heart of Overtown.

“Using compost reduces the need for pesticides and herbicides,” Torres says. “You’re basically applying this rich material to your landscape. You don’t have to introduce any chemicals.”

Compost for Life has expanded its mission since Torres started it in 2020. They’ll take on the dirty work and do it for you. Providing residents and businesses with containers to process acceptable food residues, which are then collected and composted at various cooperative farms in Miami-Dade and Broward.

“So here we are just paying homage to the natural processes, the gifts of nature. And we need to understand that this is the way we are meant to live, in balance with the environment. Yes,” Torres said.

Torres also regularly engages in the community and encourages others to join the movement. It was during his presentation at Ransom Everglades School two years ago that he inspired then-11-year-old Tomas Jimenez.

“I was really surprised to see how many different elements he included in his presentation,” Tomas Jimenez said. “I wanted to learn more.”

Composting became his sixth grade science project.

“I think it was like 97 points,” Tomas Jimenez said.

It wasn’t just an A, it became a new way of life for him, and his sister adopted it too.

“I never thought it would snowball like this,” Chloe Jimenez said.

The fuse lit. The brothers were energized and moved the mission of composting from their own tables to the tables of their family, friends, and classmates.

“And then it just exploded from there,” Chloe Jimenez said.

In just two short years, the brothers have not only helped expand composting on the Ransom campus, but have also helped other schools compost their food waste, including St. Stephen’s Episcopal Day School, Larkin Hospital, and even South Miami Hospital. We have also been successful in hiring companies.

“We didn’t expect something like this to happen because it’s such a big company,” Tomas Jimenez said.

He and his sister have no plans to stop anytime soon. They know their future depends on it.

“I think it’s important to show that even small things can make a difference,” Chloe Jimenez said. “And if we don’t tackle this climate issue as a community, we’ll never make progress.”

In fact, composting is so easy that some people even do it in their backyards and use the nutrient-rich soil it produces to enhance their lawns and gardens.

Some South Florida cities, such as Miami Beach, also have locations where you can drop off your acceptable food scraps for composting.

Importantly, at a time when many South Florida communities are facing a waste management crisis, this is an opportunity for all of us to reduce methane emissions and reduce waste piling up in landfills. This means that it is an easy and cost-effective practice for many people.

Links about composting

https://www.compostforlifemiami.com/

https://mbgarden.org/community-compost/#:~:text=New%20compost%20hub%20on%2085th,24%2F7%20with%20residential%20code

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