Using vermicompost to recycle organic waste in Turkey

YMP students Utku, Hande, Cagla, Dicle and Bugre, supervised by teacher Belgin Arusoglu, from School Ozel Fen Bilimleri Anadolu Lisesi, in Istanbul, Turkey created a vermicompost system for  schools in coordination with municipalities and local markets.

Students identified a lack of knowledge about organic waste management and vermicompost through a survey conducted in their neighbourhood. They decided to raise awareness and spread the practice of vermicomposting. Students signed an action protocol with the Municipalities of

Kartal and Maltepe to present the vermicomposting method at various schools and organisations. They reached out to factories to learn and obtain basic material for the project.  With the materials in place they began collecting organic waste and converting it to vermicast (a fertiliser) in coordination with schools, local markets, and the municipalities.  The project has reached about 750 people. Its continuation is expected to reduce both municipalities´ annual expenditures in organic waste management.

The group created an informative website (*), distributed posters and brochures, and made presentations at 5 different schools, 2 NGOs, Sisli Science Center for children, and Turkey Science Centers Foundation. Students were able to obtain 100 plastic pots from a recycling factory in exchange for plastic equipment collected at their school. Students adapted the plastic pots, made holes necessary for vermicomposting and delivered them to 5 schools along with 2000 Californian worms from a vermicompost factory.

The system at school: organic waste is sorted and collected at the school kitchen and then buried using the vermicompost pots in the school yards. About 4 students are responsible for the system. At local market: students interviewed local marketers at the organic bazaar in order to gain insight into their views of organic waste and its collection. Following this, students explained the vermicomposting idea and encouraged them to participate. At long last local markets were convinced to coordinate with the project.

To date, 40 vermicomposting pots have been buried in the student’s school yard. The other schools have reported an average of 5 – 10 vermicomposting pots being used at their schools.

The project was highlighted in local newspapers and on the radio. The group continues working with the Project until the end of the year.

Watch a video – and the photos in the news – (*) You may not understand Turkish but the work and fun shown do not need words! (use google chrome or any other translator to read in your language)

Interview with the group!

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