Miami Siblings Make It Mission to Grow Gardens, Not Landfills

There are few things less sexy than compost. That is, until one considers how good it is for the planet and how easy it is to make. Then compost starts looking better and better.

The Angeletti siblings don't just make their own compost, they spread it around, fertilizing a movement.

"That compost can be used by so many people to grow gardens, by local farmers, and then that produce, we try to give it to low-income families, we try to make it into a loop so it doesn't end up in landfills," explained Emma Angeletti, a recent graduate of Palmetto Senior High School who will soon be a freshman at the University of Florida.

Emma and her older brother, Ugo Angeletti, who is a sophomore at FIU, founded a non-profit called Back2Earth when Ugo was still at Palmetto High.

"So the project Back2Earth is very important to me," Ugo said, explaining that the idea came from a discussion in his AP Environmental Science class. "And the fact that we're making tangible positive change and the fact that we've given people from all backgrounds the ability to make a positive impact."

The Angeletti's set up food waste donation stations and they pass out free buckets to anyone interested in contributing to the cause.

"We've gotten people who don't believe in anything to actually get involved in a really big way, and composting is so easy but it's such a big impact in the end," Emma said.

They see composting as a solution to a major environmental problem. 175,000 pounds of food waste ends up in landfills every day in this country, where it creates methane gas, fueling climate change.

"Compost absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it does many things that people aren't aware of," Emma said. "We saw the issues and we saw that nobody was doing anything about it so we figured it's time for the youth to step up."

They stepped up and General Mills noticed. The giant company which makes Cheerios, Haagen Dasz, and Yoplait gave Ugo and Emma the grand prize in its Feeding Better Futures youth outreach contest. Emma also won the Silver Knight award this year for her efforts.

So what are the kids planning to do with the $50,000 grant from General Mills? They're pledging to reinvest it into their non-profit and expand this whole project.

"The dropoff stations and the compost station give people of any background the resources to actually make a difference, that's what we're trying to do, get anybody and everybody involved."

They've already received inquiries from around the nation on how to start chapters of Back2Earth.

So far they've diverted 17,500 pounds of food waste, living up their slogan, "Grow Gardens, Not Landfills."

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