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Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 16 October 2005
Waste Not, Worm Not

7/16/2004

New Straits Times

By Anita Anandarajah

Have you ever given any thought to what happens to the food you throw out after a rushed meal at the canteen? The chicken bones gleaned of their flesh, noodles you can't finish and overcooked vegetables you can't stomach?

Eight students representing SMK Cheras, of Kuala Lumpur, in the Toyota Eco Youth Program decided to do something about the stinker of a problem they were greeted with every morning, no thanks to irregular garbage collection.

The Toyota Eco Youth Program was introduced with the objective of instilling awareness in schoolchildren on the importance of preserving the environment.

After much research on the Internet, the team, consisting of Lew Nam Hon, Chong Jia Loon, Nur Hazirah Mustafa, Michelle Lee Yee Lin, Kenneth Lee Chun Hoe, Daanis Amar Aris Pathy, Lee Siew Wei and Erica Choy Weng Si, chanced upon an Australian machine to decompose organic waste.

The team also paid visits to experts in the field at Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Putra Malaysia to gather more information for their project.

Led by group leader Lew, the team improvised the machine to suit our climate as it employs worms to decompose organic waste (which includes leaves and other garden waste). These worms are sensitive to temperature, living comfortably between 5C and 29C. A fan and constant supply of water will regulate the temperature in the machine.

These aren't just any worms. They are red earthworms (Eisenia foetida), indigenous to Australia, which have been shown to consume food equal to their body weight. The team figured that this will translate to 10kg of organic waste a week.

The Y-shaped aluminum contraption, christened The Digester, will be home to the 1,000 worms which will decompose organic waste into rich "black gold" fertilizer.  Another part of their project is to prevent improperly disposed food waste from clogging the drains. To fix this, Chong is constructing a steel filter to be placed at the drain near the canteen.

Teachers Rosmini Abdul Rahman and Ganeshan Vadivelu, who are the project advisers, agree that the team has demonstrated great dedication towards their project, staying back twice a week to work on their machine. As all 15 teams competing in the program scramble to meet the deadline for the two-week judging process, it is heartening to know that school isn't all about textbooks and exams. By the end of the competition in August, the students of these 15 schools may have a more comfortable environment to study and play in thanks to their schoolmates.

(Copyright 2004)


 
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