SANTA MONICA, Calif. — At Santa Monica College, there’s an army of more than 500,000 composting worms in the sustainability department, quietly devouring dozens of pounds of organic food waste and churning out nutrient-rich vermicompost. The worms are cared for and maintained by Kenneth Derieg, the recycling program specialist at SMC, where he teaches students a variety of sustainability practices that include caring for the school’s red wiggler worm army.  

But moreover, these worms, when harnessed en masse, function as a crucial component to combating food waste.

“I call them the intestines of our planet,” Derieg said. “They’re eating away at this organic matter and the stuff that comes out the backside — worm castings — is really beneficial. It’s the best fertilizer you could give your plants.”

For more on Santa Monica College’s sustainability center, visit their website.