Have food waste? Let worms create compost for you in this indoor habitat

If you're looking to cut down on food waste, turn to the worms.

Worms can be your go-to if you’re trying to prevent kitchen scraps from going to the landfill but you don’t have access to a green bin, or if you want to create compost for your plants, but you don’t have the outdoor space to do so.

Akil Mesiwala is founder of ‘The Box of Life’ and he has created an indoor solution to house “Red Wiggler” worms, which he says are great for creating compost.

“It is worm poop,” he says.

“Once we have some more respect for our food, we realize the importance of composting, the importance of not wasting food, and thinking how we can be better stewards of the land,” says Mesiwala.

The ‘Box of Life’ is a wooden, multi-level box, which acts like a habitat for hungry worms. Just throw in kitchen scraps like banana peels and watch the magic happen. About a month later, you’ll have food for your plants.

If you don’t have the back yard or outdoor space to create your own compost, this could be a solution, Mesiwala says.

“It’s way easier for me to put my food scraps in my kitchen composter than to go outside in minus 30 degrees and put it in the green bin.”

How much waste can you feed them?

Mesiwala says all you need to get the process going is to add worms and anything like cardboard or paper, along with food scraps. “One worm studio can compost between two and three kilograms per week. You can add layers to bump it up to like four kilograms. I would say that’s average for a family of two to three.”

Is there a smell?

“Typically, on average, your worm bin should smell like forest soil; like after it rains, that really earthy smell,” says Mesiwala. He adds that if there is a foul smell, it’s an indication that something might be wrong.

If you find worms a bit icky, you’re not the only one. Mesiwala has an engineering background and says he never even touched a worm until his mid-twenties.

“I never played with earthworms and I was one of those kids that did not like to get their hands dirty,” he says.

Jimi Rose is an Ottawa resident who has used the worm habitat for a year. He keeps it in his workshop.

“The worms are always right at my feet; it’s nice to have them.”

He says his building doesn’t have a green bin program, so he uses the worms to divert food waste away from the landfill.

“Every time I was putting it into the garbage, I was like, ‘this doesn’t feel right.’”

What do I need to get started?

A three-level box costs $200, but you’ll also need to get worms to go along with it. Mesiwala says if you’re in Ottawa, you can purchase the worms directly from him ($50), or find them on sites like Kijiji.

He holds regular webinars explaining how to get started. There is one on April 28 at 7:30 p.m. You can register here.