Thursday, April 7, 2011

Worms: "Procreate, eat, shit and have a great time"

We are a composting household and have been so since 2006. While living in Montreal I thought I was doing pretty good just recycling. I mean, I lived in an apartment, how could I compost?

Then we moved to British Columbia and our landlord had a compost bin in his yard. I figured, well, my parents have been composting for a few years now, I'm sure I can handle this. The first few months were definitely an adventure. Filled with failed "corn based" biodegradable bags... that would actually begin composting IN our bin (ew!), to fruit fly infestations, a frozen outdoor compost bin and then maggots. Yep, Gag. (Lesson: boxboard or sturdy paper is WAY better than weird corn-plastic bags).

It has now been about five years of composting. We have a little green bin that we buy paper bags to line. Our friends use old cereal or beer boxes to line theirs. Since we're lazy we empty ours when it gets full... which is about every three of four days. Wouldn't you know, it doesn't (generally) smell. Fruit flies are minimal. This is mostly because we have a sealed container.

Now when I travel and visit other places that don't compost it feels almost criminal putting food waste to be shipped to a place where I know it will never degrade.

TRUTH: food waste *might* degrade in the landfill... (lettuce and hotdogs have been found from decades previous perfectly preserved in air tight plastic bags. No oxygen? Slow to none decomposition). When they do degrade without oxygen they create extremely polluting methane- one of the top climate changing chemicals that traps heat 20% more than carbon. Our landfills are the biggest human source of this gas. Awesome.

Although some landfills and dumps have figured out ways to trap the gases- compost facilities can as well... WHILE creating beautifully rich soil at the same time.

Also, food waste makes up 35 to 50% of our garbage. In Toronto that means 110,000 tonnes of green bin waste and 90,000 tonnes of yard waste per year
(Ecoholic, 2007).

Composting in Nova Scotia is sooo easy. You put stuff in the green bin and once a week a big city truck comes and takes it away. Sadly, despite the laws that are supposedly enforcing these regulations, most local yoga studios do *not* in fact compost. You're lucky if you even see a recycling separating option.

Have municipal compost but are grossed out by it all? A few smarty-pants Nova Scotian designers actually designed a silicone freezer bin that you fill up, freeze and will easily pop the frozen waste out into the municipal pick up bin. No mess, no smell. Made by Fuccillo in Los Angeles and sold here in Halifax at Carbonstok.

Ok, so you're convinced and WANT to compost. You get it. Sadly, no municipal composting system and you live in the city. Hah- you are SO not off the hook!

Hello Vers de terre- aka Worms!

Vermicomposting is the decomposition of organic matter by worms. They eat the stuff and poo out nutrient rich worm poo. I have read that they are easy and smell-free way to create rich organic soil for your plants (or local park... lol) right in your apartment! Living in Toronto has a fabulous guide on how to create your very own worm composter in your apartment.

Red worms eat their weight in food every day. This means one pound of worms can eat through seven pounds of food every week. According to this interview:
“Worms are like children,” says Fry. Keep them indoors where it’s not too hot, not too cold. You can start small with an ice cream bucket, but any plastic or wood container will do. First you need a scoop of soil. A layer of shredded newspaper on top acts as their bedding. Lift it up for feeding time and cover them up afterwards. Keep it moist and feed every few days.
“After that they just procreate, eat, shit and have a great time”
Love that quote.

Don't like the look of a plastic bin in your living room? Well, you could get this ridiculously beautiful 5bin composter system on etsy. Or these coffin-like Wood Worm bins, or eco-felt cloth bins that you could store under the sink.

Take the next step.
  • If you have a yard; get yourself a yard composter (Yancy has fabulous adventures and insights on her blog).
  • If you live in the city with municipal composting- get a bin and some liners and giver!
  • If you don't like the smell- try the beautiful silicone freezer bin!
  • If you don't have municipal composting- go worming!

Needless to say, composting definitely is for everyone. It really is shameful that 50% of our waste is taken up by something that could otherwise be creating beautiful, healthy soil.


article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. What a Great post! We compost and are lucky enough to have a "green bin" collection every 2 weeks. It is so cool to see dirt actually come out of our composter. Very cool.

  2. the smell? my compost bin doesn't smell at all. as long as you're tossing leaves/grass etc and mixing it up with the food waste, it shouldn't smell. i just have a stainless bowl on the counter and fill it up, and it only attracts fruit flies in the summer so i just empty it more frequently then. no special bins or liners or anything :)

  3. I have a worm composter in my classroom, and we love our worms! I would advise doing the research before jumping in, this is my second attempt at vermicomposting. The first attempt ended in disastrous results. Nothing like the involuntary manslaughter of hundreds to innocent worms to liven-up classroom discussions....

    And I'm lucky enough to live in a municipality that diverts all organic waste. Our green bin is huge, the same size as our garbage and recycling bins. We put bones, pet waste, fruit and veg scraps into the bin and it's collected every week. While I don't approve of some of the decisions by local politicians, I'm happy with that one!

  4. As we are luck enough to have an amazing backyard, we don't like to share our compost with the town (not that our town has a compost pick-up. Yet.). It has helped our garden sooo much!

    And, we took the leap and got some worms about 1 1/2 years ago. They struggled a bit at first, but now are pooing monsters! Can't wait to use their poo this spring :)

  5. I was wondering if I could share your post on my blog via a guest post spot. I really think it is full of great info and would love to share it. Let me know what you think. Have a wonderful day!

  6. I actually tried the vermicomposting in our apartment because I wanted to keep the compost for house plants. Sadly it ended with the massacre of not one but two bins worth of worms. They are very temperature sensitive. One batch bit the dust in a heat wave in 2007...the others were left outside in our vestibule over the winter which I read was okay since they produce their own heat as the food breaks down but one night the temp dipped too low and they froze solid... :(

    I won't do it again at home BUT I might start it as a project for my Ecology lab!

  7. There is also another product that can be used to compost in small areas it's the Indoor Composter at
    I haven't tried it myself (too expensive for me right now) but I'd love to!
    It says it works on a fermentation process rather than a decomposition one.
    I like the idea of the size and the fact that I can get it close to home.

  8. Thank you for sharing this post about composting and the cool containers for indoor composting


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