Organic or biodegradable waste recycling
Kitchen waste and garden waste are biodegradable. Rather than mixing it in with recyclable and non-recyclable waste, it makes sense to recycle this resource into valuable compost and other useful by-products - to 'regenerate' the soil. Rhodes University is exploring options for an integrated composting collection facility on campus, to help improve its waste management practices. In the mean time, staff and students may wish to start their own indoor or outdoor biodegradable waste project.
Indoor Worm Farm
- You could start your own easy indoor worm farm (vermiculture) using 'red tiger' worms.*
*Current DNA research at North-West University (2012-13): the only species identified in over 10 worm farms in 4 provinces in South Africa is Eisenia andrei ('red tiger'), not Eisenia fetida ('red wiggler') as originally thought.
The diluted worm tea is a great liquid plant fertiliser.
More info below and at Worm farming
Indoor Bokashi Bin
- You could set up an easy indoor Bokashi bin - at work or home.
- The non-smelly product can be safely trenched, composted or fed to your worm farm.
- More info: www.earthprobiotic.com
Outdoor Worm Farm or Compost Heap
Create a garden compost heap: set aside a small corner in your garden for green waste, and keep it damp - this readily attracts indigenous earthworms (which burrow in the soil).
Support local composters: take GARDEN WASTE ONLY to a local composting Co-Op; inQaba yeGolide will be in operation soon. Contact Sivelele Masa 073 625 9025 | Monwabisi Kilani 071 051 4852 | Sposethu Vongo 078 645 0492.
Municipal Garden Skips: Take GARDEN WASTE ONLY (not household refuse) to a garden skip, e.g. behind the municipal Traffic Department in Carlisle Street.
Get involved in the action:
Support the RU Worm Farm Project.
Create your own worm farm: It could be a 'tower' of old car tyres (see picture) or large garbage bin with lid and drainage hole/tap (see My Worm Farm Example), an old cooler box or tea box (HomeMakers Example), or plastic storage bins stacked one inside the other (CheapEasyWorm).
Ask a friend for a handful of worms to start your farm.
Or contact a commercial supplier for a ready-made worm farm.
Worm farm facts
- Worm farms can use Eisenia fetida (sometimes called 'red wiggler'), or Eisenia andrei (sometimes called 'red tiger' - these grow and reproduce more quickly, so are considered more useful).*
*Current DNA research at North-West University (2012): the only species identified in over 10 worm farms in 4 provinces in South Africa is Eisenia andrei.
Eisenia is from the northern hemisphere but is generally considered to be non-invasive.
Eisenia is 'epigeic' - living in compost or leaf litter - rather than burrowing down in mineral soils (like the indigenous South African earthworms).
Eisenia quickly breaks down organic kitchen waste: fruit & veg scraps, crumbs, crusts, tea bags, coffee grinds, paper scraps, etc (it does not like very acidic items or animal protein).
The worm farm generates 'vermicompost' (dig into the garden or potting soil), and 'worm tea' / 'vermi-tea' (dilute 1:10 in water and use immediately as a liquid fertiliser for pot plants, herbs, veggies and flowers).
The more you feed your Eisenia worms, the faster they multiply ... which means you can give some to friends and colleagues to start their own worm farms.
More info: Worm farming
More good reasons for vermicomposting
Patrick Dowling of EIGSA (Earthworm Interest Group of Southern Africa) says:
- A worm farm works well with a little care and maintenance.
- It is cheap and the high value components – the worms – replicate themselves readily, so starting small is no problem.
- Worm castings can be used on lawns and gardens - with great benefits.
- Landfill sites (legal and illegal) will not fill up so fast.
- Landfill sites will prduce less methane.
- Transport fuel costs are much lower - no need to cart organic waste away.
- CO2 emissions are reduced - because less fuel is used.
- Less food waste is flushed into already overloaded sewerage systems – which means better water quality and less aquatic eutrophication (oxygen-starved water systems).
- Worm farming is educational and appeals to the imagination - which leads to creative environmental thinking.
Go to the Rhodes University ENVIRONMENT front page. Suggestions/Questions? Contact environment(at)ru.ac.za