This story is from our partner NativeEnergy and was originally published on 8/31/10.
I recently moved into a new apartment, and with plans to live more sustainably, I wanted to start composting. However, while I love my new place, there is no available yard. So I decided to try vermicomposting. That’s right: composting with worms. Indoors.
It’s one thing to have a little barrel of rotting food and worms in your garage, or even a spare bathroom. However, as I surveyed my new place, I realized there was only one location for the composter: the kitchen.
I’ll admit it; I was not thrilled by the idea of worms digesting food scraps next to the counter where I prepare salads and make bread. And being the frugal Yankee that I am, I wasn’t about to invest $100+ on a fancy official worm bin with removable trays and nozzles and fashionable green trim either. However, I couldn’t fathom sending my organic waste to the landfill anymore. Not when there was another option.
So after some research, my partner and I converted two old plastic totes into a compost bin—drilling holes in the tops and sides and devising a way to ensure mess-free drainage. We ordered red wiggler worms (which are ravenous eaters and don’t mind living in a confined space) from CompostCritter. We filled the bin 1/3 of the way with shredded newspaper and cardboard, and started saving our food scraps.
Worm Day came. They arrived in an unassuming little package in our postbox, not unlike a present or mail-order book. We gently poured them into their new home, along with a bit of water and handful of soil. Despite their disorientation and new surroundings, it might have been the happiest day of their lives. There was a veritable feast of veggie peels.
That’s all well and good, you might be thinking. But what happened after?
In other words, did it smell?
We’ve had our indoor composter for two months (in the hot and humid summer no less), and surprisingly, we haven’t had a problem with smell or sanitation. The worms really do their job. We are careful to avoid putting meat, dairy, or oily cooked foods in the bin. We make sure not to “overfeed” the worms. Even our guests have been more interested than disgusted by the composter, though I’m sure some of them think we’re a bit weird. Most of the time, we just forget it’s there.
Certain things, like sharing our homes with worms, may not appeal to modern sensibilities. I, however, feel more connected to my food these days. I’m looking forward to using the compost in my houseplants and herb garden. And I love the fact that even though I live in a downtown apartment, I am now able to redefine “waste” as “raw materials,” just as Nature defines it.
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