by Courtney Mintenki
Worms. They’re not something you think of unless you’re walking by puddles after rainstorms, or are packing up for a fishing trip. But if you want to cut down your ecological footprint, they’re something you should consider.
There’s been a lot of talk about curbside recycling in Regina, but composting, according to the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council, is the best way to reduce your waste materials.
Composting in Saskatchewan comes with a challenge – how do you compost in winter?
It’s called vermicomposting, and it means composting with worms.
Vermicomposting is an indoor composting system, and an ideal way to continue composting even in winter’s freezing temperatures. But it isn’t as simple as tossing worms on your garbage.
Joanne Fedyk, executive director of the SWRC, says that the success of vermicomposting depends on the amount of material you try to break down. There’s also a psychological barrier to overcome – most people don’t like worms.
Vermicomposting is housed in a bin, which varies in size depending on the amount of waste. According to the SWRC’s website, one to two people can vermicompost in a bin 45 x 60 x 30 cm with about pound of worms. Four to six people requires a bin 60 x 105 x 30 cm with three to four pounds of worms.
For the past four years, complete vermicomposting kits were available from Garbage Delight, a Regina-based business. These kits included a ready-to-compost bin – a Rubbermaid container with six one-inch holes – and worms.
The business, started by Mick and Elaine Rissing, and Deanna Cutrie, began as a group of friends who composted, and wanted to help others reduce their ecological footprint. Four years after beginning their business, the group is folding.
Elaine Rissling said this is because of a slow-down in business over the past two years.
Vermicomposting is certainly a good option for those who have an indoor space that can house the worms. But for those in apartments or dorms, there is no optimum composting system.
The SWRC has been testing indoor composting systems. With project money, they tested a NatureMill Automatic Compost Bin– a machine that grinds material to produce compost.
The volunteer testing the machine tried it for two weeks, and ended up hating it.
“It was loud, awful, stinky, and bizarre,” Fedyk reported.
The council wrote the maker of the machine, and received suggestions on how to get the machine to work better. However, this $400 machine doesn’t prove to be worth its price.
“If it was $400 and it worked,” explained Fedyk, “and you just tossed everything in and you didn’t have to do much, and it was quiet, and did it for you, you could convince apartment owners to buy it.”