At the Texas Worm Ranch, we are on our way to vermicomposting tons of materials that would have gone to the landfill this year. Countless bags of leaves were picked up off other people’s curb sides, hundreds of Halloween pumpkins found their way to worm nirvana, many truckloads of horse stall waste were shoveled from the local stables, woodchip mulch from Lindsey’s Tree Service was added monthly, we fed at least 80 lbs of produce scraps a week from Highlands Cafe, and our own garden and food scrap waste went to the worms too. Not one scrap of that needed to go to the landfill, but most people don’t think of the impact of doing just that. I choose to use Nature’s gift of fertility to feed our family healthy, organic food…think about it….
What are the environmental benefits of vermicomposting?
Fact: One pound of mature worms (approximately 800-1,000 worms) can eat up to half a pound of organic material per day
Fact: Worms can eat: fruit, vegetable, and grain waste, manure, leaves, newspaper, cardboard, office paper, junk mail, and other sources of cellulose.
Fact: The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that each U.S. resident throws away 7.2 ounces of food waste each day. Dallas County had an estimated 2008 Census Population of 2,412,827 people. That population would produce 1,085,772 lbs. of food waste a day! Families or individuals that vermicompost remove that waste stream from the landfill.
Fact: A typical cubic yard of residential waste weighs 225 lbs/cubic yard. A typical garbage truck can hold 25 cubic yards of waste. If all food waste was vermicomposted on site, 193 garbage truck trips could be reduced every day in DallasCounty.
Fact: In a healthy worm bin, the worms and beneficial microbes work together to neutralize odors. Worm bins are suitable indoor composting systems.
Fact: Vermicomposting is not only important as a space benefit, but it also removes the danger of harmful methane gas being produced by the food and leaf waste in the landfills, which is then released into our air for decades to come. Worm composting does not produce methane.
Fact: Methane in the Earth’s atmosphere is an important greenhouse gas with a global warming potential of 25 compared to CO2 over a 100-year period (although accepted figures probably represents an underestimate). This means that a methane emission will have 25 times the impact on temperature of a carbon dioxide emission of the same mass over the following 100 years. Methane has a large effect for a brief period (a net lifetime of 8.4 years in the atmosphere), whereas carbon dioxide has a small effect for a long period (over 100 years). Because of this difference in effect and time period, the global warming potential of methane over a 20 year time period is 72. The Earth’s methane concentration has increased by about 150% since 1750, and it accounts for 20% of the total radiative forcing from all of the long-lived and globally mixed greenhouse gases.[22 Shindell, D. T.; Faluvegi, G.; Koch, D. M.; Schmidt, G. A.; Unger, N.; Bauer, S. E. (2009). “Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to· Emissions”. Science 326 (5953): 716. doi:10.1126/science.1174760. PMID 19900930. 22 ^ “Technical summary”. Climate Change 2001. United Nations Environment Programme. http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/017.htm.
Fact: Vermicomposting converts waste into a wonderful organic amendment that’s beneficial for gardens, houseplants, and landscaping.