ROOTS Turning Trash into a Brighter Future


ROOTS – Turning Trash into a Brighter Future


A finalist in the “Student Project using Autodesk Fusion 360” category in the second Cradle to Cradle Product Design challenge, the ROOTS compost tumbler is designed to help  educate students on biological nutrient cycles and technical nutrient cycles. The tumbler makes both cycles visible through user interaction, which are broken into two categories: the interaction with the tumbler, and an online service that serves as a journal for their tumbler.

Project Title: 
Project Designers: 
Ashleigh Otto, Virginia Tech
Project Date: 
Jan 2016



Challenge Summary

The goal of the Cradle to Cradle Design Challenge was to eliminate the concept of “waste” by designing products with materials that may be perpetually cycled to retain their value as nutrients to fuel growing global economies.


Design Summary

The ROOTS composter, designed for use in schools, provides both teaching and learning opportunities for teachers and students throughout the use process, from assembly to use.

The kid-friendly assembly allows students to learn about recycling and homogenous materials. Students work together to fill and turn the tumbler regularly, and can actually observe the contents within. And, finally, schools can leverage a “Return” option, whereby they can sell their compost tumbler back to ROOTS if they are unable to use all of what they have produced, and receive a new tumbler in return. Through this process, students also learn other uses for compost outside of their school environment.

The Online Tumbler Journal is a website that provides information about their tumbler, resources for operation and maintenance of the tumbler, and the opportunity for students to post their own entries about their tumbler.


Autodesk Fusion 360

Designer, Ashleigh, switched from a competitors’ software to Fusion 360 for this project, quickly realising major benefits and distinctions compared to other modelling software.  Ashleigh found the greatest strength of Fusion 360, was the inclusivity it has between various CAD functions.  During this project, Ashleigh used Fusion to create working assemblies, prepare models for CAM software, render assemblies with different materials, and animate assemblies - all in one single file.


Click here to see the full design.
Click here to see Cradle to Cradle Product Design Challenge winners