Posts Tagged 'vermicomposting'

Vermicomposting: Tips from First Timers

When it comes to going zero waste, composting often seems to be one the most intimidating step to take. Yes, composting definitely requires more time up front compared to swapping out single-use items for reusable options, but the process is not nearly as time consuming or scary as you might imagine. To help ease any fears that might still have you feeling hesitant, some of the ILACSD team is giving you a look into their own experiences with composting for the first time!

Emily showing Lauren and Moriah how to make their own vermicomposting bin!

But let’s get started with a review of some basics when it comes to composting. Composting is the process of converting food scraps and yard waste into compost, an organic, nutrient-rich alternative to fertilizer in your garden or your potted plants. According to the Center for Sustainable Energy’s Equinox Project, organic waste makes up one-third of the waste in San Diego’s landfills. By composting, we can divert organic waste from landfills where it can release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

In the I Love A Clean San Diego office, we have multiple team members who collect food waste to be brought back to their composting bins. This past June, Moriah and Lauren made their own vermicomposting bins and began their composting journeys! With a few simple tools, we enjoyed time in the sun making the bins and learning all the details of vermicomposting!

Both Moriah and Lauren have been using their vermicomposting bins about a month now. With that experience under their belt, we checked back in to see how the process has been going. Lauren explained, “I have to say it’s intimidating to have another thing to take care of in my household, but the simplicity and beauty of this natural process are what astonishes me the most, day after day.” Moriah shared how having Emily – our Education Manager and composting expert – in our office as a resource impacted her experience:

“Having Emily as a resource has been super helpful. She has even responded to Snapchats I’ve sent to her of the bin to let me know if it looks like it is healthy and thriving. Emily’s help and the resources in our office have led to a pretty healthy bin. The worms are breeding and eating everything much quicker than I expected!”

Worms for the vermicomposting bins!

With a flourishing, healthy bin, Moriah has been able to show off her composting skills with her friends and family. By passing along her knowledge and story, she is creating a community she can be a resource for when it comes to vermicomposting.

“Whenever I have people over, I get to be the “worm girl,” showing off the bin and talking about how easy it has been to set up. They are always amazed that it doesn’t smell, that it’s small, and by all the things the worms eat. When we hosted a 4th of July party, people had fun (I think) digging in the bin to give the worms their watermelon rinds. Friends have even given me their rotten vegetables to put in the bin, saving those from going to the landfill.”

Composting does not have to be the unbeatable zero waste giant some imagine it to be. Finding your community, ask questions, and just taking the first step is really all it takes! So why wait? Start your own composting journey today!

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No yard, no problem! Composting in small spaces.

amanda-2-photoshopToday’s blog comes from our Hotline Manager, Amanda! Earlier this year, she wanted to increase her composting knowledge, much like our Education Manager and Master Composter-in training, Erika. After taking a series of classes, Amanda wanted to share these two new methods that are great for small spaces. Read on to learn the basics of two innovative composting methods; perhaps you’ll find one that works for you! 

Many of you already know about traditional backyard composting, but there are other options out there to help you recycle your organics at home. Today, I’ll cover some basics on two composting methods you may not have heard of yet: vermicomposting and bokashi.

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Erika keeps her vermicompost under her desk and just as it should, it doesn’t smell!

Vermicomposting is a method of composting where organic material is broken down through the use of worms, red wigglers and red tigers being the best types of worms for this method. Vermicomposting is a great option for apartment and condo dwellers or those that do not have yard waste available. It can be done on a small scale (even under your kitchen sink!). Mostly food scraps are added to the vermicompost bin, as opposed to traditional composting where large amounts of carbon rich yard waste is needed. Vermicompost bins are available for purchase, and some residents may even be able to purchase subsidized bins – click here to see if you qualify! Or if you are feeling handy and you want to build your own vermicompost bin, check out some basic instructions from the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation.

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Practice makes perfect! At this station, kids learned how to sort out compostable vs. non-compostable items.

I Love A Clean San Diego has also integrated our newly acquired composting knowledge into some of our education offerings as well! Recently, we partnered with the City of Chula Vista & the Chula Vista Recreation Department to augment their youth after-school program, Empower Hour.  ILACSD educators lead  several hands-on activities during May & June to cover topics such as waste diversion, recycling and composting.  During the composting activities, the kids learned how to sort recyclables from compostable materials, and even got their hands dirty during the compost bin and worm discovery activities. If you’re interested in learning more about our education presentations, please contact our Education Manager, Erika at education@cleansd.org!

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Here’s ILACSD’s Program Assistant, Joseph leading the worm exploration station!

Here are 7 tips to maintaining your vermicompost bin:
1. Worms don’t have lungs, they breathe thru their skin. Fats and oil will coat their skin and they can no longer breathe, so avoid putting fatty or oily foods in your vermicompost bin.
2. Worms don’t like motion, vibration or extreme heat/cold.
3. Your bin should never smell, an odor would likely mean you are over feeding your worms.
4. If you are adding watery food, add some paper as well.
5. Moldy food is ok to add, the bacteria actually helps give the worms a head start on digesting the food.
7. Food scraps are best in smaller pieces.

Are you ready to start composting? Find local resources, such as bins, worms and classes near you at www.WasteFreeSD.org!

Bokashi is another composting method where you can pickle your food waste and thus store for later use in your traditional compost pile. What makes it unique is, unlike traditional composting, dairy, meat and bones can be used with this method. An inoculant, a combination of anaerobic microbes, is used to pickle the food waste and are available for sale online or you can also find online tutorials. Once you get your inoculated grain/paper and a 5gal bucket (or larger!) you are ready to go.

Simply add your food waste to the bucket and some inoculated gain/paper as you go along. After you bucket is full, it will take ten days to two weeks for your pickled food scraps are ready to be added to your traditional compost bin. As you are adding to your bokashi bin, place a plate on top to keep pests away. If you see white mold it is ok, only be concerned if you see green ,red or brown mold. Bokashi workshops are offered by Solana Center for Environmental Innovation, but keep an eye out for them on www.WasteFreeSD.org because they fill up fast! 

A Rind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Erika-teamToday’s blog comes from our Education Manager, Erika. Earlier this year, Erika took it upon herself to find new ways to reduce the amount of waste she creates each day – she signed up for a composting course! Now that she is on her way to becoming a Master Composter, she wants to share what she has learned in hopes of inspiring you to take a composting course near you! Read on to learn more about how food waste impacts our landfills and how you can become a skilled composter as well! 

A rind is a terrible thing to waste, so do something! Join the Master Composters!

Here at I Love A Clean San Diego, many of my coworkers and I feel strongly about waste reduction. In the past few years, I have seen my own transition from using some disposable items in my life. An example being bringing my stainless steel pint glass to the Adventure Run last week, so that I wouldn’t have to use a disposable plastic cup for that IPA at the end of the race. While I have been able to carry my bamboo cutlery and stainless steel straw around, I noticed that I was still creating quite a bit of waste – food waste. In San Diego, we lead the country in per capita waste, with disposing about 1.3 million pounds in 2012. Of that trash, a 2012-2013 study showed that food represented the most prevalent material composed in our landfill, accounting for 15% of the total waste stream. In residential waste, that percentage increased to 18%. After learning these startling statistics, I realized there is so much more that I can do with regard to waste reduction. So, with waste in my mind, I signed up for a Master Composting class.composting blog - 1 SMW chart - composting blog 2

Hands on learning is always best!

Hands on learning is always best!

Last October, my friend, @girlforaccleanworld, and I joined with a dozen other composting inquirists, skeptics, novices, and enthusiasts to begin our composting journey to potential Mastery. At first, I was quite anxious. I previously had a horrific experience with a vermicompost, resulting in [read quickly] maggots and other vermin. Needless to say, I was apprehensive but determined to further reduce my waste through composting. The great thing about the course is that there is such a great variety in reasons why people compost – from professional development, to reducing waste, to ameliorating compost gone wrong, to education – there were people from all walks of life.
Another great thing about the course is its hands on approach. On the first day, we were already getting our hands dirty, layering greens (food scrapes, grass clippings, etc.) and browns (cardboard, paper, other wood products). Each week, we measured the temperature and moisture of the bin, turned it, and looked for grubs – ok, that might have just been me. I was captivated by how clean everything was and how quickly different items could degrade. While I learned a lot in the class, the take home for me was:
• Anything and everything (natural) will eventually turn to compost, it just is a matter of time.
• You can be active or passive, it will still turn to compost
• Compost does not smell – if it smells, give it a turn, it needs to breath
• Composting doesn’t need a ton of space, especially vermicomposting

Vermicomposting

Since completion, I have been working toward 30 hours community composting service to become an official Master. I have become more conscious of my grocery shopping, as to not buy more than I need, and have been able to help people out with their composting woes. I would highly recommend the class to anyone. For more information visit http://www.thelivingcoast.org/programs/composting-programs/. There is also a 5 week long composting workshop available through the Solana Center that starts on April 11th. For additional information please click here.

Let’s work together to minimize our food waste! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for helpful tips and tricks about how to reduce waste in your life!

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Photo Credit: @girlforaccleanworld. Thanks for allowing us to use these great photos!

 


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