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Composting in Schools

close-up of female hand dumping organic food scraps into the compost bin

Why Compost?

Composting is the process of turning organic materials into a rich soil amendment to use on plants.

Food is the largest type of waste sent to landfills and can be harmful to our natural resources. By using your food waste to create nutrient-dense soil, you can help the environment.

Composting helps to:

  • Improve soil water retention
  • Support organisms in soil
  • Develop soil nutrient structure
  • Feed plants without using chemical fertilizers

Composting in School: How to Get Started

  1. Inform your principal and/or school district and cafeteria staff that your school plans to build a compost pile.
  2. Pick a shady spot or somewhere with enough room to build an enclosure.
  3. Loosen the soil where the pile will sit.
  4. Lay a thin layer of sticks to allow for drainage.
  5. Prepare a diverse mix of ingredients to ensure a variety of nutrients.
  6. Chop ingredients into 3” pieces and layer, alternating between green and brown ingredients.
  7. Water the pile until it is damp.
  8. Cover with dry leaves or straw to hold in moisture.
Types of Compost Bins
Typical Compost Bin
Tumbler Compost Bin
Worm Compost Bin

Local Resources

Contact your local agriculture extension or city for localized tips and in-person assistance.

If you are not ready to start your own compost pile, find local resources and community partners.

Learn more about developing a composting program at your school
Composting in Schools (English) 
Composting in Schools (Spanish)