A Dirt-Covered Secret, That Can Save Us All | Teen Ink

A Dirt-Covered Secret, That Can Save Us All

November 3, 2015
By sbery17 BRONZE, Basking Ridge, New Jersey
sbery17 BRONZE, Basking Ridge, New Jersey
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I found myself face to face with the head of school with two note cards clutched in my hand. The first one contained a story of how I impersonated my 32-year-old counselor, conning my mother. The second one explained how I understood what I wanted to do with my life when I was harvesting vegetables with a Harvard graduate. I don’t think he was impressed.

When I was 10 years old I created a fake email address, mirroring that of my camp counselor, and emailed my mother threatening her, in neon green, that she had to be more environmentally friendly. I finished off this clever ‘prank’ by dragging my mom to the basement to reveal a bright red bow taped onto a compost machine hand picked by my father and I from the shelves of Home Depot. That was the end of my prankster career, but it was only the beginning of the love of my environment.

These weeks at camp were not important because of what I learnt, but how it made me feel. As my counselor blabbered on about ideas that were too complex for my small brain to interpret I was filled with a rage that made me nauseous and upset as I imagined a world without trees to climb, animals to love and fresh water to drink. It was then and there that I made a silent promise to do all that I could to save the world, an ambitious pledge for someone who was not tall enough to ride 80% of rollercoasters. Yet, ever since that day, the one where the compost idea was born, my life seemed to have a purpose.

A few years later, I found myself in a similar situation. In between harvesting carrots and preparing piles of compost a Harvard graduate, who also happened to own the farm our boots were dug into, told me that 40% of the American food supply ends up in dumpsters. Food waste placed in landfills do not allow Earth’s natural cycle of decomposition to occur, and as a result, the waste produces leachate, (a toxic substance) and methane (a green house gas that is 21 times more damaging to our Earth than carbon dioxide) which both contribute highly to climate change and other impending environmental issues. I tried not to grit my teeth as I jotted this down adding it to the list of astonishing facts I had learnt during my summer months volunteering to properly understand sustainable farming and the uses of a compost machine.

I presented these dirt-covered beauties to the head of my school and crossed my fingers, closed my eyes, and hoped he would say yes. And somehow, he did. Maybe he wanted me to stop sharing my ridiculous stories or maybe he was as in love with environment as me, but it did not matter. After years of nagging and unanswered emails, he had just said yes to officially having a compost machine at school. I, and the Green Committee, was ecstatic.

Composting is a complex topic, something that is foreign to many people not only in America, but the world. The idea brings images of dirt, bugs and the stink of garbage, however, in reality, compost is a perfect way to stop most of the environmental issues we face. By transforming our waste into soil we not only encourage organic farming all over the world, hopefully decreasing the use of pesticides, we also reduce carbon emission from landfills, stopping the rising temperature of our Earth.

I was taught to stand up for what I believe in. And I believe that we live in the most balanced and beautiful planet and as long as we have the technology and access to help it: why not? My entire life, as it seems, was just stepping-stones to the day I helped completely reduce an entire high schools waste. And that day, I hope, was a stepping-stone to something greater. Something I haven’t discovered yet, but I know I will.

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