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Worm Composting: A Cheap and Easy Way for Your Office to Reduce Its Environmental Footprint

We’re taking a break from our regular blog topics today to share one of our loves at CNT Energy: worm composting. We show you how your organization can introduce the practice in your office to help keep organic waste from the trash. You first need basic supplies and equipment. We use a 3-tiered Can-of-Worms vermicomposter (about $100) but there are other worm hotels, or you can make your own. We got our red wiggler worms from God’s Gang, a local nonprofit organization. Here’s a tip: Choose an organic waste collection can that’s attractive enough to keep on a shared kitchen counter, so others are more inclined to use it. Keep it clean, and post a list of restricted foods near the can. Developing a dedicated vermicomposting team and schedule helps. Each member of our crew spends less than 15 minutes each week on worm-related duties. As for very simple instructions, here’s what our worm team leader sent to new recruits — you can adapt it for your own use.

  1. Take the food scraps out of the waste collection can and walk over to the worm hotel.
  2. Open the top layer of the worm hotel and mix up the previous day’s goodies. (You’ll really want to get in there and mix up the food with the dirt and any newspaper that was in there from the day before. This part can get pretty dirty; use a glove if you wish. )
  3. Place the food waste into the top layer of the worm hotel.
  4. Rip up some more newspaper (the thinner the better) and layer it over the wet waste.
  5. Close the worm hotel. Give yourself a hug for helping reduce the amount of waste going to a landfill. Your future grandchildren thank you.

Tiny office? Indoor worm composting is a great way to process a large amount of food waste in a small space. Large office? Joining a worm team is a great way to meet other folks and learn skills you can adapt for home vermicomposting. Harvest time comes every three months. We empty the bottom tier of the composter onto newspaper. Most of the worms have vacated that part of the hotel because the waste has been completely composted, but there are always a few stragglers. Shine a desk light over the humus, or, as organic farmers say, the black gold. This causes the worms to retreat downwards. As we remove the top layers of humus, the worms will dive deeper into the piles. Continue this every 30 minutes or so for a few hours, until all you have left is a pile of wiggling worms. Put them back in the compost bin along with fresh bedding (the ripped-up newspapers). Use the humus on office plants or in your garden. Nurturing a vermicomposter at your organization allows you to optimize an already very natural process. In other words, just keep an eye on things and you’ll do great. As one of our resident composters said, “You take something that is garbage and turn it into something that is gold. It’s alchemy, and who doesn’t need some magic in their life?” There are plenty of other tips and resources out there. Please let us know what’s working for you!

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