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Jessica Sensenbaugh and Vivian Boring, teachers at Madison Middle School in Vista, take home three vermicomposting bins, with plans to bring two to their students’ garden club. They created the bins at the Save Your Scraps Workshop, hosted by I Love a Clean San Diego and the City of Vista, to educate residents on waste reduction. Photo by Kelli Kyle
Cities Community Community News Vista Vista Featured

Vista residents learn to compost, reduce waste

VISTA — On a beautiful Saturday morning at the Alta Vista Botanical Gardens in the hills of Vista, three picnic tables sat covered with black plastic bins and bags of shredded paper. People of all ages diligently soaked the paper in water and squished it into the bottom of their bins.

Later, the mixture housed several tiny earthworms that would break down organic food waste in what is known as the vermicomposting method. Vivian Boring, a teacher at Madison Middle School in Vista, left with two bins to take to her students’ garden club.

“We’re hoping the kids can learn about their food and sustainability, and what it takes to grow your food,” Boring said. “Then they can have a deeper appreciation of it.”

Attendees at the Save Your Scraps workshop in Vista create vermicomposting bins. Saturday’s workshop, hosted by I Love a Clean San Diego and the City of Vista, taught residents tips and tricks to reduce their organic and manmade waste. Photo by Kelli Kyle

Boring was one of nearly 45 attendees at last weekend’s Save Your Scraps Workshop, hosted by the nonprofit I Love a Clean San Diego in partnership with the city of Vista. The workshop was designed to educate residents on levels of organic and manmade waste and provide ways to cut back.

“Reaching for glassware instead of plastic ware, reaching for a reusable water bottle — these are all small steps we can take to leading a more sustainable lifestyle,” Katie Shea, education specialist with the nonprofit, explained to attendees.

The workshop rotated participants through three stations — one on food waste reduction, compost practices and ocean-friendly gardens. Things wrapped up with the vermicomposting bin activity, which gave the first 25 registrants materials to create a compost bin that day. Alaine Ibarreche, another education specialist with I Love a Clean San Diego, said this interactive experience is an important part of understanding composting.

“To really do it hands on and see that it only takes a few minutes, rather than someone telling you that — there’s definitely a sense of confidence that participants leave with,” Ibarreche said.

I Love a Clean San Diego, based in Point Loma, holds workshops and cleanups all over San Diego County. In North County, it has hosted events in Encinitas as well as Vista. This was the first time in its six-year partnership with the nonprofit that the city of Vista held the organics workshop.

According to Leslie Webb Blanco, an assistant with the Vista Public Works Department, when city learned about the program, it saw it as a perfect fit to help comply with state mandated waste management plans.  

“The city provides learning opportunities for its residents and businesses on managing their waste when the opportunity arises,” Webb Blanco said. “The workshop was a great addition to our ongoing education and outreach efforts.”

Next up for the nonprofit and the city of Vista is a community cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 1, where volunteers will pick up litter from the Carlsbad Watershed. For Boring, events like the cleanup and the Save Your Scraps workshop reinforce the idea that anyone can play a role in living sustainably.

“Everybody can do it, regardless of where you live,” Boring said. “You just have to get creative. It’s the little things that help.”

For more information on upcoming I Love a Clean San Diego events in North County, visit