Students turn food waste into 'worm tea' fertiliser

(Left to right) Jacqueline Tan, 15 , Xie Wanxin, 15 and Vanessa Chan, 17 from National Junior College showing their worms. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Student From National Junior College, Xie Wanxin, 15, holding the worm they use it to break down the waste into fertiliser. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Students at National Junior College have been using worms to reduce food waste produced in their school.

Tucked in a corner of the school are worm factories where the creatures are grown and then mobilised to turn food waste into fertiliser, through a process called vermicomposting.

The factories are each about 1m tall and hold three levels each of soil, coco peat and 300 to 400 worms.

Food waste like egg shells, vegetable scraps and coffee grounds are blended and dumped into the factories for the worms to consume and digest, which they complete in one week.

After water is poured into the factories at the end of every week, the liquid that drains out is then used to fertilise the school's garden.

The students have even taken their knowledge to residents at the nearby Watten Estate to show them how they can create their own worm factories as well.

(Left to right) Xie Wanxin,15 , Vanessa Chan, 17 , Jacqueline Tan, 15 , from National Junior College showing Minister Ng Chee Meng their crawly worms with Mr Tan Tong Hai, CEO, StarHub (in green). ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

"I feel a sense of accomplishment seeing the residents take the worm factories home to continue with their effort," said Secondary 3 student Xie Wanxin, 15.

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"Some plants in our gardens flowered for the first time after we watered them with the fertiliser, or 'worm tea'," she added.

For their efforts in promoting conservation and recycling, the students were recognised at the Singapore Environment Council-StarHub School Green Awards (SGA) held on Wednesday (Nov 8) at ITE College East, along with six other schools.

The other schools are: PCF Sparkletots Preschool @ Pioneer Blk 661B, Xinghua Primary School, Anderson Secondary School, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Tanglin Trust School and MINDS Woodlands Gardens School.

The seven schools received the Outstanding Environmental Outreach Project Award - the top award.

The SGA is a self-audited voluntary environmental programme which allows students to develop and showcase their environmental efforts.

Xinghua Primary School's Green Club, for instance, started initiatives to reduce food waste. This includes turning the peels of citrus fruits into "magic cleaners" by putting them in a jar with vinegar and water.

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"They are very good for cleaning glass, plastic. My parents use it to clean our table at home," said Primary 3 pupil Tan Hong Yi, nine.

This year, a record 410 schools and their students took the message about conservation and recycling into the community. More than 28 per cent were pre-schools.

Through their initiatives, the students saved 5,252,000 kilowatt hours of energy, enough to power 1,094 four-room HDB flats for a year.

They also saved 130,000,000 litres of water, enough to fill 52 Olympic-sized swimming pools, and collected 47,362kg of electric and electronic waste for recycling - the weight of five buses.

Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, who was the guest of honour, said platforms like the the SGA are important in enabling young people to put their green ideas into action.

"Through the process, our students gain a better understanding of Singapore's environmental landscape and contribute to the nation's vision of a sustainable and liveable Singapore."

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