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Worms in the Kitchen: Office Composting with Urban Worm Girl

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Urban Worm Girl logo

Increasing sustainability through the magical power of worms, Stephanie Davies and Amber Gribben of Urban Worm Girl are helping people get smart about the environment one compost bin at a time.

Urban Worm Girl’s mission: to educate the community on composting with worms (also known as vermiculture). Worm superhero Stephanie came to Mightybytes yesterday and set us up with a sweet in-office composting system that will take care of our coffee grounds, banana peels, leftover scones, avocados, and even some paper waste like cardboard, egg crates, and newspaper.

As a three-star Eco-Andersonville certified business, we’re always looking for new ways to be as carbon-neutral as possible, so after meeting Stephanie and seeing one of her wonderful presentations, this seemed like a natural next step in evolving our approach.

The process is actually a simple undertaking of recycling organic kitchen waste using the wisdom and efficiency of red wiggler worms. These little guys literally eat your trash and their secretion becomes a light, airy nutrient-rich fertilizer with the byproduct being a type of worm “tea” liquid that can also be collected and used to grow your house (or office) plants big and strong.

Stephanie demonstrated in detail the steps of setting up our worm bin by getting us involved firsthand in the process. First, she packed our new compost bin with worm-friendly bedding made of newspaper, cardboard and a coconut coir brick soaked in warm water. Then came the worms. Stephanie dumped a pound of them (nearly a thousand) into our bin and mixed them up with the bedding. Worms can consume half their body weight in one day, so for now we can expect to compost about a half-pound of organic materials every day or so. However, our little hermaphroditic friends, when well-fed, reproduce liberally so that could increase exponentially over time.

After getting the system set up, thanks to Stephanie’s guidance, it didn’t take long before we were digging banana peels out of the trash and burying a few leftover scone bits (sorry Taste of Heaven) to keep our new roommates satiated. Who knew getting your hands dirty could be this much fun?

From here forward, we feed them every other day (or so) and put our organic waste in different quadrants of the bin. As an office with anywhere from four to ten inhabitants on a daily basis the new composting unit isn’t going to take care of all of our organic waste needs, but it will definitely make a difference. We bought a very fashionable holding container with a carbon filter to help supplement our efforts.

Here are some fun composting facts we learned in this process:

  • Red wiggler worms are different than the large ones in your backyard
  • Worms like eggshells (or sand) to help them digest garbage.
  • Worm tea, a by-product of this process, is amazing plant food.
  • Worms don’t like spicy food or citrus peels.
  • Worms may eat dairy or meat, but it’s going to make your bin smell.
  • Worms do like mango pits and even corn cobs.
  • The end product of this process is an incredible addition to any yard or garden.

Here’s a fun fact: Did you know? It only takes a worm 60 days to make a fine grade of compost. It can take a gardener 240 days to do the same!

Stephanie, Amber, and the whole Urban Worm Girl crew do incredible work with a high commitment to education, which we are all over. If you’re looking for more info, check out Stephanie’s awesome new book, Composting Inside & Out.

Mightybytes is a Chicago-based digital agency and Certified B Corporation. Connect with us on Twitter or get in touch via our contact form.