Anthony’s Compost Bins


In support of Sustainable Princeton’s initiative to make Princeton greener, I will be working on spreading information on composting as well as helping to recycle shipping pallets into compost bins. Based on a design by a Sustainable Princeton member and architect, Heidi Fichtenbaum, they will help to reduce the amount of trash and leaves that Princeton collects as well as create usable compost for gardening.

Benefits: Compost improves soil condition, providing nutrients, stabilizing pH, and providing soil structure, which supports plants better. In addition, it is a great way to reduce the amount of organic waste that is thrown out and helps reduce the amount of leaves that are left on the curbside.
The locations of the sites will increase as I receive confirmation from the different groups that have committed to receiving the shipping pallets, however all of the build sites will be in the Princeton area, mostly behind the public schools, such as Littlebrook, Community Park, John Witherspoon, and Johnson Park.
There will be two main parts to my project, namely gathering the shipping pallets and constructing the compost bins. As it takes time to locate the shipping pallets, I will continue to hold sessions from transporting them even as I begin the construction on different sites.
There will be 2-3 workdays for transporting the shipping pallets which will require work gloves for heavier lifting. As it is relatively simple (it merely involves loading the shipping pallets onto a truck and unloading them back off at the work sites), it will not require more than 3-4 volunteers to carry out the work on each work day.
The construction phase of the project will require slightly more volunteers (around 4-5) and will involve a more complex process *please see attached build sheet file for more exact details on building instructions. Volunteers will be required to bring work gloves as the work sessions will involve digging and flattening the ground, lifting the shipping pallets, and screwing together the sides and hinges with a power drill. Work gloves will also be provided at the work sites.
Currently Planned Transportation Days: 
September 29, 2012. *Update – We did more work than expected, and I probably will not need to schedule any further.
Currently Planned Construction Days: 
October 6, 2012 (11:00 am), (3:00 pm)
October 8, 2012 (1:00 pm)
October 13, 2012 (11:00 am), (2:00 pm)
October 20, 2012 (1:00 pm)
Transportation Session – 9/29/12 Sam’s Club, John Witherspoon Middle School, Community Park Elementary, Littlebrook Elementary, and Butler Organic Community Garden
Participants: David Teng, Eric Collins, Enric Boix, Albert Dong, Anthony Teng
I was lucky to have Sam’s Club donate a huge 24 shipping pallets and to have John Witherspoon donate 15 shipping pallets towards the project, in addition to the 7 I found in the Princeton area, 4 of which went into a prototype I made on 8/19/12. With the help of Eagle Scout Eric Collins and his giant red short-bed truck, we were able to transfer 12 shipping pallets at a time, leaving shipping pallets at Community Park, the Butler Organic Community Garden, John Witherspoon, and Littlebrook.
Construction Session – 10/6/12 Community Park (11:00), Littlebrook (3:00)
Participants: David T, David R, Ellen D, Jamie H, Tom R, Philip T, Anthony T, Paul D, Michael R
The work done at CP involved a lot of changes to the build plan, as the shipping pallets used were a much heavier, sturdier variety than the standard shipping pallet. The orientation of the shipping pallets was also changed, and added a foot to the length of the compost bin. In addition, these changes took more time than expected to put into place, however the finished result was much better than the old build template overall. Due to the extra time required in rethinking the construction of the compost bins in terms of the different materials, the second work session was postponed to Monday, and no work was done at Littlebrook, although the materials were put in place. This first work session was a great learning experience in rethinking strategies and putting them into effect.

Construction Session – 10/8/12 Littlebrook (1:00)
Participants: David T, Mary S, Jamie H, Aaron G, Daniel G, Jackson G, Chris D, Jonothan P, Will S, Jack S, Anthony T
The Littlebrook work session took much less time than expected, partly due to the fact that the new design was already understood, and did not necessitate any further changes over the ones made at CP. The work session was also quite efficient, as the scouts did their jobs admirably and did not need more than one explanation of what they were doing. In addition, they worked well in teams, as different teams worked on different bins simultaneously. In addition, there were just enough volunteers to have 2-3 working on each bin, either digging/placing the bricks, constructing the back and sides, or installing the door. This also sped up the construction process, and allowed us to finish an hour ahead of schedule. The scouts demonstrated proper handling of tools and materials and, overall, this work session went by quickly.

Construction Session – 10/13/12 Johnson Park (11:00)
Participants: Jamie H, David T, Daniel G, Jackson G, Anthony T
The work session at JP went very smoothly, as both of the volunteers had already had experience with the bin construction. In addition, it was much easier to simply make a single compost bin than to make multiple as there was more space for drilling and we did not have to fasten any inner walls together. This work session took slightly longer than normal as the pallets had to first be fixed (some had broken slats), then transported about 100 meters to the work site before the construction could be begun. On an interesting note, there was ice on the ground during the beginning of the work session, so cold was the morning and the night before, but by the time the work session was completed, it would around 70 degrees.

Construction Session – 10/13/12 John Witherspoon Middle School (2:00)
Participants: Jamie H, David T, Steve C, Daniel G, Zohaib S, Afnaan S, Elizabeth T
The JW bins were built extremely well as we were able to utilize the flat paved surface of the walkway around the school to build the compost bins. Instead of having to level the ground, place the bricks, adjust the level of the bricks, and place the shipping pallets, we simply placed the pallets on the walkway, making them flush and saving a lot of time. This also made fastening the doors much simpler. After the bins were built, they were simply picked up and moved to the final location. As there was no exact confirmation of where in the garden the bins were supposed to be placed, I will be returning on Tuesday to JW to meet with the garden club, explain composting, and help relocate the bins if necessary. JW had donated 7 pallets to the project in addition to the 8 used to build their 2 compost bins. They also happened to have extra bricks from construction, so we did not have to bring any for their work session.

Construction Session – 10/20/12 Butler Organic Community Garden (1:00)
Participants: Waiyee C, Jamie H, David T, Leo L, Philip T, Elizabeth T, Sidhant S, Anthony T
The Butler bins took more time than normal as they required much more digging. This was because the bin sites were situated on a small hill of land that was covered in vegetation. In addition, as the shipping pallets were slightly damp from the rain the day before, it was harder to drill in the screws. More effort was expended to drill them, however they still came out well in the end. Overall, the last work session went well, albeit slightly slow. The scouts were more interested in talking about video games, however this did not detract from their work, and they were able to work efficiently, given the challenges that we were presented with. It was quite a relief to finish my last work session, and I am glad that I built the bins.

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