back2earth by Mila Angeletti

Grow Gardens, Not Landfills

Photo of Mila
2 10

Written by

Additional categories (optional)

  • Education

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Website > Instagram > Twitter > Facebook > Youtube >

Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

More than half of the trash that people produce in Miami consists of food waste, ending up in landfills. When food waste ends up in landfills, it decomposes in anaerobic ways, producing methane and carbon dioxide, thus becoming one of the biggest contributors to climate change. In fact, landfills contribute 18% of total US methane emissions. The excessive production of methane, a gas 30 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

In order to divert food waste from landfills, we create food waste drop-off stations and compost stations all around Miami. Anyone can drop their food waste at one of our stations. We convert this vast amount of food waste into compost, to use on local gardens in order to grow hyperlocal food. In other words, we are closing the food cycle. In order to run and promote this mission, my 3 siblings and I have created back2earth Inc, a nonprofit 501(c)(3). We receive support from the city, schools, volunteers and hundreds of local residents and companies. With our stations, all Miami residents can make a positive impact. It’s easy, free, and, contrary to common misconceptions, odor-free. Anyone, regardless of their socioeconomic background, can compost, and make a difference. We currently operate in South Miami, Coconut Grove, Downtown, Wynwood and soon Key Biscayne. We receive a lot of messages from people all around the US who want to join the movement and open their own compost station. Our plan, based on our experience, is to support them to divert food waste from landfills in their own cities.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

I am a 13-year-old student at Carver Middle School in Miami and I am connected to the natural world since a long time. I have learned the devastating effects of improper waste management. I have also witnessed the issue of food waste in Miami and other cities. I wondered where all this organic food scrap was ending up so I started to research and found that most of the time it was put in landfills. I saw the real potential of bringing green positive change to Miami. To do this, I created a compost station at home for my neighborhood. I went door to door to talk to my community and gave them a bucket to collect their food waste. 100 families started to compost with me. Then my siblings and I created back2earth Inc., a nonprofit to install more compost stations all around Miami.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

We have a fantastic tool to change the mindset of people and divert their food waste from landfills, it’s our “magic” back2earth bucket. None of my neighbors knew about composting, about the issues of landfills. When I give them a bucket (for free), they realize that their trash bag becomes much lighter and easy to carry and that their food waste has a great value and is a precious resource for nature. I show them that their 5 gallons of food waste will become 12 cups of a fantastic and natural fertilizer that will be used to grow gardens, not landfills and they realize of simple it is to have a great impact. This story happens all the time as we distribute about 10 new buckets per week.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

We have started our mission by collecting food waste with a bike and a trailer in our neighborhood. Some organizations do the same in several cities in the US. We quickly saw the limit of that: it was stuck as a local service and could not become a real movement. We decided to try to involve our neighbors more by asking them to drop off their food waste in a special bin. Almost all our neighbors accepted this new way. This new model allowed us to expand our network and create more compost stations. It’s a big milestone that makes our solution different.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Our mission is achieved everytime someone drops off their food waste in one of our stations, everytime we teach a child what composting can mean for our future. So far we have: Distributed 120 “magic” back2earth buckets Collected 40,000 pounds of food waste Created 5000 pounds of compost Donated 2500 pounds of compost Created 5 gardens to grow foods Distributed vegetables to local residents - and ate some of them ;) Created 4 (almost 5) compost stations in Miami Made 35 presentations to kids (at our stations and in schools) Our current potential Every of our station can potentially compost organic food waste provided by 250 households who produce approximately 5,000 pounds of organic food waste per week. With our soon-to-be 5 stations around Miami, we will be able to compost 25,000 pounds of food waste per week. And that is just 5 back2earth stations.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

We are going to recruit ambassadors who are going to open their own back2earth compost stations in their own cities. We have proved that our model works, easily. We have a real know-how to change mindsets, to build an efficient compost station, to make easily without a lot of work a great compost, we have experimented many solutions to collect food waste and our back2earth bucket is a perfect tool, simple, with no smell, no leak, easy to close and to carry. We have already been contacted by a student in Houston who is building his back2earth compost station. Many more will create their station all around the US. There are so much food waste that ends in landfills and that can be turned into a great thing: compost.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Public Relations

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k
  • Donations between $1k-$5k
  • Donations over $10k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

Attachments (1)

back2earth - Kids Presentation.pdf

Presentation for kids of our solution


Join the conversation:

Photo of DeletedUser


Great initiative!

Photo of Tia Johnston Brown

Yes! I was JUST talking to my cousin tonight who is 17 about composting and how to get a program going in her city. Can you send information on how she might get started?