Vermicomposting: How worms can reduce our waste – Matthew Ross


Think of all the food made
in the world each year. Hard to picture? Then, imagine that you
are all of humanity, and on a plate in front of you is the one lovely annual
meal you make for yourself. You did all sorts of work putting
that meal on your table. You must be eager to consume
the fruits of your labor. And the vegetables and meats and waffles of your labor, too, right? Well, oddly enough, a third of that meal ends up in the trash. A third of the food we eat globally, an estimated 1.3 billion tons ends up as waste. All the work we put into producing
that food is wasted. And what’s worse, it costs us. America alone spends an estimated 165 billion dollars a year managing food waste. We’re wasting food, energy, and money. Perhaps worst of all, we’re wasting the chance to change, to make the system of food
consumption more efficient. If you want to bring on that change, you should know about a humble yet diligent and ever-so-crucial ally: the worm. Worms convert organic waste and other compostable products
into natural fertilizers. Up to 75% of what we put
in the waste stream can become food and bedding material for vermicomposting. You can create a worm bin in your own home to see the composting process in action. First off, you need worms and not your typical earthworms. You need redworms, eisenia foetida, the species responsible for most vermicomposting in North America. These red wigglers are surface dwellers who don’t burrow too deep, they’re optimal feeders
around room temperature, and they’re well-suited
to converting organic waste into usable fertilizer. Now, your worms might be vermin, but they need a comfortable
space to live and work: some bedding materials, either shredded paper or cardboard, some moisture, and, of course, food, mainly, your leftovers, slightly decomposed table scraps. The worms break down food waste and other organic matter into castings, a fancy synonym for worm poop. Their excrement is absolutely
teeming with microbes, which continue the decomposition process, making all those once-wasted nutrients available again as fertilizer. The timeline for the whole process varies depending on the quantity of worms, the temperature, and how much waste is added to the bin. And there’s another timeline to consider. In a healthy worm-bin habitat, worm reproduction will occur when the wigglers become sexually mature, indicated by an elongation of the segments into a bulbous structure. Three-month old wigglers can produce two to three semi-translucent
yellow worm cocoons a week. You thought only moths and butterflies come out of cocoons? Well, we can’t all be majestic. It takes around 11 weeks
for new babies to hatch. When your bin seems to be full
of living vermicelli noodles, it’s time to share
the bounty with your friends and start a vermicompost club. Or keep those worms to yourself and start a business. Vermicomposting isn’t confined only to small worm bins, it’s an emerging
entrepreneurial enterprise. Large-scale facilities convert bulk organic waste and even manure into rich, black castings
called black gold. Its value as a soil
additive is unparalleled, and it can help plants
resist harmful pathogens. The lack of available land
in urban environments, coupled with growing interest
in smaller-scale farming means there is a market
for vermicomposting. Many communities use composting as part of zero-waste strategies, and they can sell
their worm-eaten table scraps to local farms, hungry
for rich fertilizer. So, instead of wasting money, dumping wasted food in landfills, we can remake waste into an asset, putting it back into our food system to make it more sustainable, all with the help of the humble worm, the tiny organism that can help us change the way we look
at food’s place in our lives and our place in the world, as long as we give the little guy a place at our table. Well, not an actual seat at the table. A bin in the shed is fine.

100 thoughts on “Vermicomposting: How worms can reduce our waste – Matthew Ross

  1. why are ted-ed videos so not popular?try kurzgesagt,it's videos gets over a million views in just one or two days!

  2. Earthworm to Bacteria: “Ah you think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn't see the light until I was already a Worm, by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”

  3. Or, you know, you could buy less fucking food! Typical americans, always trying to find a solution for their problems instead of trying to eliminate the problems. You're fat? Don't eat less and exercise, get surgery! Got diabetes? Don't eat right and exercise, take these pills and shots instead! Your kids got learning problems? Don't spend extra time helping them with schoolwork, diagnose them with a disease and give them these pills instead!

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  5. so really you could have a garden harvest your stuff eat it and the scrapes you could put in the bin and do it all over again

  6. please send that 1/3 of food waste and that money to Africa and help them and educate them. Will do even better

  7. I hope a community garden set up will be done for every town and city and make student, volunteers to be a part of composting activities. This is very helpful, all the harvest can be use by the people in the community for free.

  8. In my country if you don't finish your food on your plate (rather in a buffet or restourants)
    They charge you

  9. Most food waste is caused by the producers and sellers, not the individual consumer! Ask your local store what they do with unpurchased produce.

  10. I think the real problem with food waste isn't the money we throw away, but the fact that without it and with some organization, we could feed the world.

  11. Id do that if I had leftover food, to begin with.
    What happened to the teachings of our parents "You can't leave until you finish your plate"

  12. WOW I DIDN'T KNOW WORMS HAD ARMS!!!!😒 seriously i know this was just for visual purpouses but y???? oh and also when you had the bit where you showed the man throwing the food out you could have had him eat it and not finish then throw stuff out insted of making it look like he was fourced to throw it out !

  13. I'm a beginner gardener and I will never mind if the city came here with a truck load of compost. I'm bout to make a farm in my backyard.

  14. a lot of these comments dont realize that a lot of this food waste are fruit or vegetable peels, inedible parts, egg shells, leftovers that went bad…. "giving the food waste to the poor" isnt really the solution

  15. Recently I tried composting with vermicompost. I am surprised with the outcome. Apparently, you can also produce vermicompost yourself, and there are more species made to produce vermicompost, for example Californian worms.
    I bought a bag here www.ekovormas.com .

  16. That's why I never leave a plate empty…but that's also why my gut could feed a family for a week calorie wise :C

  17. I work in one of the largest landfills in the state and I will say, the amount of food that comes in to the landfill in any given day is absolutely deplorable. It sickens me to no end seeing tons of food items being thrown away do to blemishes or imperfections.

  18. Table scraps???? No vinegar, no fats, no meats ( unless you want problems) , no bones……these all go in outside compost pile where water can dilute, my opossum and skunk ( not mine as such- they just live in the area) can pick and choose, and where things that break down slower can go. In compasting worm bed go all veggie scraps from prep, all used coffee grounds, egg shells- after microwaving , anything all vegetable and shredded cardboard ( good- bye amazon boxes) and paper.

  19. Thanks for doing a great job on the video! We just started a commercial worm and vermicomposting farm so we will share your video to educate our customers.

  20. When my compost bin smell i just add some dry leave or cardboard
    Smelly bin is becouse too much nitrogen material

  21. Common Earth Worm: I practically live underground, eat underground fungi, algae and mold. I come up to the surface at night to eat the decaying leaves.

    Red Words: I'm about to end this man's whole career.

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