The Move 2021

man person people car

“You have so much stuff…”

I’m not sure how many times I heard that over the day my friends graciously gave up to help me move. 

The friends that help me move last year were the most vocal in their complaints:

“You didn’t have this much stuff last year”

“How do you write a blog about minimalism when you own this much crap?”

“How did you move last time with only a van?”

The answer to that last question: My old place was furnished, including bed frame and mattress. I’ve since gotten both, as well as three bookshelves. All items that take up a lot of space in a moving truck.

Other than that, I don’t have an excuse. I didn’t think I collected that many things over the year and a bit I lived in my previous apartment. But I guess looks can be deceiving…

Well, I suppose one notable area where I know I’ve accumulated stuff is plants. If you read my Inbound vs Outbounds over the year, you might have noticed this trend. But that doesn’t take a trucks worth of space.

Plants on Bookshelf

Another spot, that truly didn’t sink in until we were unpacking at the other end was food. Maybe, this shouldn’t surprise me. I’ve mentioned my struggles with food waste a few times on this blog during my Plastic Free July series.  

Anyways, the number of boxes that were food gadgets, or actually food was shocking. I didn’t count, but it felt like the kitchen is overflowing with my stuff, and none of my partner’s. I have no idea how it happened since the kitchen at our new place is bigger than my last place.

I guess in hindsight I might have overstepped my dedicated food storage areas in my old apartment. I’m trying not to repeat this a second time. Not only with food, but with general co-habitation.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

As for other things that moved, they are all about as expected…

My partner is very confused about the shoes. Earlier today, he was like “so you have a Ikea thing in the closet that holds your shoes”. To which I agreed was accurate. He continues “so what is the big bag of shoes in the living room?”

I just said “Yes” and moved on. I haven’t worn most of my heels in almost two years, but they still Spark Joy, so they are staying.


I won’t touch on the yarn situation too much in this post. But my partner and friends were very confused as they would open a box and yarn would be the first thing they would see (I used it in lieu of bubble wrap to pad my stuff).

At the moment there is one closet and a few boxes that are just sitting around, filled with yarn and crafting supplies. All of it poorly organized since I get so overwhelmed it’s muddles my brain when I’ve tried figuring out what I should do to store it. Like, I know what I want to do with each individual ball of yarn or piece of fabric, but finding the home, until I have the time to do it, is the issue. It’s not a cute look and definitely something I’m planning on tackling in the near term.

The truck. We also did a few car trips after for the plants and small stuff

Overall, it feels so strange now that I’m here. I’ve spent months trying to downsize my belongings, and been giving crap away left, right, and center. But I don’t really feel like I have much to show for it. Or more, not show since it should be gone. My friends that read the blog were so impressed with how much stuff I had listed in my August Inbound vs Outbound. It was a productive month, but also doesn’t feel like enough.

To concluded, the move went well and we are still getting settled in. This post doesn’t feel like it had much of a point. But I still wanted to share my thoughts and experiences of the process. Have you moved recently? Would love to hear any fun remarks the people helping you out made.

Inbound vs Outbound #11 – August 2021

The point of this article is to see what I’ve purchased versus what I’ve decluttered in the month. The ultimate goal is to see, if over time, I’m bringing more into my life than taking out. Also if the things I do bring in are adding more value into my life in the long run since I’m documenting when it’s arriving.

I was packing to move this month. I tried my best to keep track of things but there’s a chance a lot was missed. Really tried to only to move stuff I want to keep (spoiler: mixed results).

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • A bar cart;
  • One T-shirt;
  • One legging and sports bra set; and
  • One vacuum.
plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • Two jewelry design boards (FB Marketplace);
  • A carry case filled beading supplies (FB Marketplace);
  • A fishing tackle of beading supplies (FB Marketplace);
  • Two glass Terrarium (FB Marketplace);
  • Two outdoor chair and stools (FB Marketplace);
  • One Fijifilm Instax and three packs of film (given to a friend);
  • Two packs of scrapbooking paper (given to a friend);
  • One Gameboy with games and carrier (eBay);
  • More random bag of beading supplies (Buy Nothing Group);
  • A bag of knit slippers my grandma gave me three years ago (hospital NICU);
  • About 4-5 bags of clothing and household items (donated);
  • A office/school supplies (Buy Nothing Group/Gifted);
  • 100 paper bags (FB marketplace);
  • One crochet bear (Buy Nothing Group);
  • One plastic Christmas tree (Garbage);
  • One plant my friend found on the side of the road and left at my old place (returned to the side of the road);
  • One bean bag chair (gifted to my roommate);
  • One dinning table (gifted to my roommate); and
  • One pocket Neopet (eBay).

As predicted in my July post, lots of movement this month. I’m at the new place and there is a lot of unpacking to do, which will discuss in future posts.

BOOK REVIEW: Minimal by Laurie Barrette and Stéphanie Mandrea

Jewelry Making Supplies

Laurie Barrette and Stéphanie Mandrea are two childhood friends and the owners of the Quebec brand Dans le SacWhich primarily sells reusable fabric bags, as they transitioned into a low waste, minimalist lifestyle. I attended a virtual interview that Indigo (a Canadian Bookstore) did with the authors. They seem quite nice. The few things I really remember about their talk (I lost the page I wrote my notes on) was their idea of Zero Waste, which isn’t trying to having all your trash for the year fit in a mason jar. But more the 5 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.

Photo Source

The book is a pretty short read at about 220 pages, Libby said that I finished the book in about 2 hours. Overall, I enjoyed it. There’s a lot of lists and DIY projects for different areas of the home and life, such as cleaning products, skincare and baby bum sprays to help live a low impact life.

I enjoyed the first couple chapters the most and got the most information out of them. They might be a bit basic, but cover the ideal of minimalism, the impact of humans on the environments and the idea of making ones on products to have more control of what is entering ones personal environment.

From the cleaning chapter onwards, they started to loose me a bit. Barrette and Mandrea really love essential oils! I have a below average sense of smell, so I don’t care about aromatherapy or essential oils. Also there’s a few really large multi-level marketing companies that sell oils. And that sales/company structure isn’t something I believe is ethical. To be clear, they weren’t pushing a certain brand or anything like that, just my prior knowledge of essential oils going into this book make me have a generally negative option about them.

I truly disagree with one point they had in there book. That was that essential oils are good for the planet. They mention that oils “triggered their green journey”. Kinda ironic given how material intensive the process can be (like 10,000 lbs of roses for one 1lbs of rose oil).

Also they encouraged putting essential oils on babies, they did have a disclaimer that it’s “controversial” to put these types of oils on babies but their didn’t have any issues with their kids. John Hopkins has an article with recommended amounts/usage. But I personally don’t think it’s a great idea. I’ve used tea tree oil on my skin before, and found it burnt a lot so I can’t imagine how a baby would feel.

I don’t have children but I did enjoy the chapter about raising minimalist kids that are environmentally conscious. A lot of it just leading by example but they have this list of environmentally friendly family actives that I just found really charming. Examples, like making salt dough, building bird houses, and growing veggies. That list is without a doubt my favorite part of the book.

At the end of the day it’s a pretty easy read, with really lovely photos, and with content you can find mostly on their website or if you spent enough time on Pinterest. I did read an interview with them that has a quote, that I think captures their intent with this book: “Packed with DIY project ideas, practical tips for reducing waste, and utterly drool-worthy photos, Minimal is a must read whether you’re motivated by love of the planet, the ‘gram, or both.”

Photo Source

To conclude, I would have enjoyed less essential oil talk, but others may not find it as annoying. If you see this book at a book store or the library I would say give it a quick flip through and read the kid friendly activity list but I don’t recommend spending money on it.

You can find some of my other minimalism review here.

Plastic Free Update #2

assorted plastic bottles in a pile

You can read my two previous posts about Plastic Free July below:

I’m Gonna Try ‘Plastic Free July’

Plastic Free Update #1

As mentioned in my previous update, it was harder than expected. Now that it’s late-August, I can confidently say I didn’t do a great Plastic Free July. Below is an overview of the second half of the month:

July 19: McDonalds drink and fries

July 21: McDonalds coffee

July 22: Brough my own bags to the farmers market, but not enough, so I had to use some of theirs. I also got a container of microgreens and bread in a plastic.

Farmers Market Haul

July 23: I got plastic bag and plastic fork that came with my lunch order.

Later that day I dropped off my pile of black plastic take out containers I’ve been hording. There’s a take back program in Toronto, Case Reuse, that sanities and redistributes them to restaurants. So I brought my pile over to them.

July 25: Plastic clingwrap on some veggies that I received in my Too Good to Go order. It’s an app that partners with bakeries, grocers, restaurants to sell food that’s about to spoil at discounts in a sort of goodie bag. So the things I received would have gone to garbage anyways, so at least I was able to divert some of that waste.

July 26: Harvey’s drink with my post work snack of a veggie burger.

July 27: Did groceries and brought my reusable bags, but forgot the bags for my veggies.

July 28: Ordered Freshii for lunch on site, a compostable bowl but plastic lid. Strange…

July 29: A plastic bag came with my Mr.Sub order for lunch on site.

So ended up using single use plastic for more than 50% of the days. Beyond what was listed in the two updates, I’m pretty confident I forgot stuff so the reality could be worst.

Me after looking over my notes and seeing how bad I goofed the challenge. Photo by Ric Rodrigues on Pexels.com

I am proud of some of the things I’ve done. Like I finally got rid of the weird pile of plastic I was hiding from my roommate (although I might have to start a new one, since I saw some ramen bowls in our recycling again).

That’s pretty much the only goal that I achieved. Which is disappointing since I was really confident that I could do better. That why in my original post I added stretch goals, I was really sure that Plastic Free July would challenging but doable.

I could give a bunch of excuses to why I broke my own rules, as well as a challenges. But I can really summaries it as lack of planning and lack of fortitude.

The lack of planning one I’m hoping to fix, for a variety of reasons that aren’t only related to my plastic usage.

But my lack of fortitude is a bit harder. That can’t be solved that with a planner and a To Do list (although it might help). As I suspected in my first post, a lot of the plastic waste is coming from eating take-out. Some of that is due to the nature of my job, which involves a lot of site work and driving. But that doesn’t explain the takeout coffees and after work fries and pop. Those were just me wanting them now instead of waiting until I was at the office or home for a drink and snack.

So although I don’t think I did that well, I do think this is a interesting baseline measurement. Either for future Plastic Free Julys but also for other months. I might track it September and see how it compares. If I was a massive data nerd, I could track it for the next year and make some cool graphs with what type of plastic I’m using and where I put it at end of use. I would love to tell you I’m that kind of person, but I far too forgetful. So don’t look for that in the future.

So what now?

If you are new to Plastic Free July, their website has a lot of decent swaps for reducing plastic waste in the home.

But for the most part just planning a head so you don’t do what I do and impulse buy takeout. That’s better for the environment and ones wallet. I’m too nervous to even look at my bank statements to see how much money I spend this month on take out (minus the reimbursable stuff from work).

In my first post, I mentioned that I wanted to look in to the City of Toronto’s recycling program to learn more about it and maybe lobby for it to include black plastic. I haven’t done that. I still fully intend looking into that and Toronto’s composting program. May I update this post, or write a separate one when I’ve gotten the time to do the research. 

To wrap up, still a bit disappointed in how I did but I think that this was good eye opener that despite thinking I know a lot about waste reduction and plastic alternatives, I don’t fully practise what I preach and can improve.

Did you do Plastic Free July? How was it for you? I would love to read about it in the comments.

Inbound vs Outbound #11 – July 2021

The point of this article is to see what I’ve purchased versus what I’ve decluttered in the month. The ultimate goal is to see, if over time, I’m bringing more into my life than taking out. Also if the things I do bring in are adding more value into my life in the long run since I’m documenting when it’s arriving.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • Two work shirts;
  • Hard hat;
  • Safety vet;
  • No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg;
  • Landfill by Tim Dee; and
  • Five self watering planters.

plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • One picture frame (Buy Nothing Group);
  • One lunch box (Sold on FB Marketplace);
  • Two blouses (Gifted to my friend);
  • One Peperomia Frost (Sold on FB Marketplace);
  • A bunch of black plastic takeout containers (case reused drop off); and
  • An old month guard (garbage)

I’m pretty sure I’m missing a few items this month. I posted a lot of things online and waiting for them to get sold. So hopefully I can get the outbound list a little longer in August.

Inbound vs Outbound #10 – June 2021

The point of this article is to see what I’ve purchased versus what I’ve decluttered in the month. The ultimate goal is to see, if over time, I’m bringing more into my life than taking out. Also if the things I do bring in are adding more value into my life in the long run since I’m documenting when it’s arriving.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

I brought in a cars worth of boxes of things that were previously being stored at my aunt’s house. You can read about that here.

Other items that came into my life:

  • One Peperomia Hope;
  • One Philodendron Birkin;
  • One ceramic planter;
  • One ergonomic keyboard;
  • One laptop stand;
  • One multi USB connection thing;
  • One ergonomic mouse pad; and
  • Sweatpants from Knix.

(you can tell this is the month I committed to the WFH lifestyle)

plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • Paper CD cases (recycled);
  • Plaques from races I won (Garbage);
  • Soap with a mustache pattern (gifted to my partner);
  • The book ‘Turtles as Pets’ (gifted to my partner);
  • A bunch of copper wires (Buy Nothing Group);
  • Random children books (little library and a donation box near a local church);
  • Random note book of yarn samples (garbage);
  • Guitar case (sold on Kijiji);
  • Manga/calligraphy set (gifted to roommate);
  • One roll of wrapping paper (Buy Nothing Group);
Off to do a Buy Nothing hand off

  • 5 rolls of duct tape (Buy Nothing Group);
  • A bag of textiles that’s been sitting in my car for easily 6 months (textiles recycling bin); and
  • 5 Pixar prints (Buy Nothing Group).

That’s it! Lots of things moving around in and out of my place. Sorry about the late update on this, I wanted the car post to be listed before this, and it took at while to write and edit.

Trying to Reclaim My Car

green scale model car on pavement

My car’s name is Dorian. Due to the fact that my car is gray. I love her! She’s my first big adult purchase and I use her pretty regularly to, ya know, drive.

I know The Minimalists say to love people, use things but I think I can love both.

But as of late, I’m not treating my car like I love her… Since I moved (back in July 2020), I’ve had some random boxes just sitting in my car because I didn’t want to clutter my apartment. This doesn’t make the clutter go away. And it being out of sight definitely did not made it easier to remember to actively take steps to intergrade or remove the crap from my life. I now totally understand why every decluttering book warns against off site storage. Out of sight, out of mind is a very real phenomenon.

Anyways, my life has recently reached a new, more cluttered point. Earlier this year, my parents moved and put some of my extra stuff into my aunt’s basement, as she still lives close by. I was texting her about something unrelated, and she mentioned I still have many boxes sitting in her basement.

That was a sign that it was time to get the stuff out of her house and take true ownership of my crap.

And oh my! I have soo much crap!! Poor Dorian was struggling as I was driving her home. I truly needed to clear out my car and make her usable. Since it was filled, including the passenger seat with boxes.

Step One was just clearing out the car. It took a couple trips, even while we used a cart to lug stuff up from the parking garage to my unit.

Step Two is looking through the contents of the box. That’s where it got a been a harder. There some stuff that I can declutter but a lot of it is stuff I don’t have space for, but also don’t want to get rid of. The majority of these boxes are are still sitting in boxes in my room as I write this.

But that can’t stay that way. Mostly because I want my room back, but also because I’m moving later this year and I don’t want to waste space in the moving van on stuff I don’t even want to keep.

Step Three has been getting rid of stuff. 

Donation centers have been closed off and on for the better part of a year due to lockdowns in Ontario. Although they are currently open, they are overwhelmed with donations. So the whole system is way less efficient than usual at redistributing donations.

As much as possible, I’ve been avoiding creating a donation pile. My current system is much slower and one that pretty much no one would recommend, due to it being so inefficient.

I’m currently selling cloths and home goods online on a variety of websites (eBay, Depop, Vinted, etc…). Any items that I don’t think have a resale value higher than it’s shipping cost are being posted in my local Buy Nothing group or FB Marketplace.

It’s been a pretty slow process. I’ve gotten faster at taking, editing and uploading product pics. And for the most part people have been coming to me for pickups. Since I work from home most days so I can just pop down to my building’s lobby and do the hand off. So the active time involved isn’t that high.

A bunch of tapes off to their new home

My friends have been really impressed by my patience in this process. Like the one time a no-buy pickup was about an hour late. Or the person that didn’t read when I mentioned three times I wasn’t available until after 12pm show up at 11:30am looking to trade.  

Those have been the most annoying trades, and they are rare instances. The majority of the time, everyone is punctual and extremely nice. Which is the main reasons I’ve been keeping up with it.

But that’s pretty much where I’m at. My Inbound vs Outbound for June (posted late, but better late than never) will better detail where I’ve been diverting my decluttered items.

I really need to pick up the speed. I really want to have my space reclaimed, right in time to pack it all up for the next place in about a month and half.

I’ve also been recording this process in more detail on my phone. So I need to learn how to edit videos and I’ll post that here as a separate update. So look out for that in the coming weeks to months.

Since the cleanout, I vacuumed the car and it was empty for a short period of time… Unfortunately, the car is currently filled with work equipment, a rain coat, and a copy of Pretty Little Liars I found at my local little library. I plan on dealing with that soon…

Plastic Free Update #1

This is an update to my last post (I’m Gonna Try ‘Plastic Free July’) you can read it here.

Not off to a strong start…

Below is a summary of the days were I failed (and, like, two times passed) at Plastic Free July and how:

July 1st: I was sitting in a park with my partner and we both wanted some coffee…

We thought that the café nearby was doing outdoor dining and we could use their mugs. Unfortunately, it was doing take-out only. Knowing this, we still both got an ice coffee and a popsicle.

So in the quest for caffeine, we created two take-out coffee cups and two popsicle plastic bags worth of waste. Also this was place was friggin expensive. We probably should have planned a bit better and brought coffee on the road with us before hanging out.

July 2: Went for a walk after dinner around my neighborhood and stopped by the grocery store. Got toilet paper because we ran out. As well, a pint of strawberries since they are on hella sale. Both items were wrapped in plastic.

July 6: Doing a bit better, I haven’t brought new plastic. I’ve mostly been eating in. I even stopped myself from just getting take-out because I was out of the house running errands.

I’ve used plastic products tho. I’ve finished two dips that were in plastic packaging, which I washed and recycled.

As well, I did have to throw out a bread bag since that isn’t accepted in our recycling system.

July 8: Upside: Got my coffee in my reusable mug. Downside: Second Cup has not fully brought back their Lug-a-Mug program. So my barista had to pour my coffee into a paper cup and pour it into my travel mug.

So the waste was generated even if I didn’t have to throw it out.

After my barista finished pouring my coffee, he showed pictures of the steak with basil chimichurri sauce he made the night before. It looked nice (unfortunately I couldn’t include the pic here).

Later than day, I ordered a donut and pizza for takeout. Both packaged in cardboard. Although the pizza box is too oily to be recycled. Not plastic, but I did break my own rules of not ordering out cause I’m weak willed and hungry.

July 9: I got a coffee from Timmies on my way back from a site for work. I took the drive-through so I couldn’t ask if they would fill my mug.

I will fully admit this plastic waste could have been avoided if I was less lazy and waited till I got home for coffee.

July 10: Went to a small grocer near my house. I brought my own plastic bags from previous trips and used them again. The cashier didn’t noticed.

July 13: Broke down and:

  • got an iced coffee.
  • used plastic bags since I forgot to bring down all my reusable ones from my apartment into my car before I left for the store.
  • bought mushrooms wrapped in plastic since they were on sale, instead of the loose option.

Overall not a good day…

July 14: Got two To-Go containers of Timmies coffee for the client and construction crew I was working with. And I helped myself to a coffee that was in a paper cup, since I forgot my own travel mug.

July 15: Honestly the photo captures how the month is going. But, like, in a bad way…

Changing lives by destroying future generations…

Also it seems that Tim Hortons’ now gives paper straws with orders. This is a very small and somewhat performative step from one of Canada’s larger sources of litter.

So that’s where I am at the halfway mark of Plastic Free July. It turned out to be harder than expected. Mostly due to my own lack of planning. I want to say that it gets better in the second half of the month. But that would be a lie.

Are you doing Plastic Free July? Or do you know of ways that I can stop forgetting my travel mug every time I leave the house? Love to hear about it in the comments below.

I’m Gonna Try ‘Plastic Free July’

I heard about Plastic Free July, last year through Instagram. As the name suggests, the idea is to reduce (ideally eliminate) the use of plastic for the month of July. From there you, hopefully, have developed some habits that you will stick with to reduce your overall plastic consumption long term.

As mentioned in my most recent post, I feel my largest waste generator comes from food waste. I think my largest plastic waste comes from take-out containers. I don’t have the best habits around take-out. They aren’t the worst, but there’s massive room for improvement. I consider take-out a rare treat, but I’m not treating it as such. Particularly this past year, where I justified take-out as supporting small businesses. But also order my meals on delivery apps that take around 30% fees from the restaurants. So how much was I really supporting?

Also, I get my groceries delivered sometimes and plastic bags are an unavoidable part of the process.

Anyway, my plan for Plastic Free July is to reduce my waste by doing the following:

  • No take out. There are more restaurants that are switching to cardboard packaging. But for the month, lets assume that all restaurants are using plastic;
  • As little plastic wrapping in the food I buy. I do live in a city with bulk foods stores, and its farmers market season. Two that are walking distance from my house. So this should be relatively achievable if I do some planning;
  • Donate the black plastic I’m hoarding. I don’t think my roommate knows that I sometimes take her black plastic take-out contains out of our recycling bins and add them to a hidden pile of take-out containers I plan on donating. The City of Toronto doesn’t accept black plastic in its recycling system and I don’t want her wishcycling. There are a non-profits that reusing them, as well as programs that specifically will redistribute black plastic take-out containers to restaurants in the City. So my plan is to get my weird little pile of take-out contains out of the house and somewhere, where ideally, they will be reused again before becoming trash. I also will bring my plastic bags to one of the groceries stores near my house that has a recycling/takeback program.
  • Write to the City of Toronto and ask to improve the recycling system to accept Black plastic (I understand their sorting machines cant see it, but I could be wrong) and other types of plastic waste. Or put a By-Law in place that bands the sale of black plastic take-out contains to restaurants in Toronto’s. Or something like that. I know that second idea would never happen, since it’s impossible to enforce. But maybe more education to restaurant owners about plastic and Styrofoam containers. And encourage them to order other biodegradable materials. I don’t really know. I need to some research before I write to my City Councilor.

My stretch goal, if I have time. Go out on a walk and pick up garbage. I see people on the internet that do it and I admire them. But I also think its kinda gross, and bad for my back.

I’m also making excuses. So I want to give it a try at least once. If I hate the process, I have a valid reason not to do it again. If it’s not bad or if I have fun, maybe it will be something I incorporate into my regular routine.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Looking at this list, it feels really reasonable. Almost like stuff I should be doing already as someone that claims to care about the environment. I’ve got the next four weeks to find out if it’s as easy as I think it will be.

The thing that will ensure that this month is successful is planning, which is something I’m terrible at in my personal life. My professional life involves a lot of planning, so I feels like I use up that energy that by the time I clock out at the end of the day. But for July, I will take the ten minutes to plan my meals for the week, so I don’t break down and order take-out. From there we’ll be golden! Or at least I hope so.

This month may also lead me to discover that I generate waste in other areas of my life. As listed above, I am working on the assumption that most of my plastic waste is generated around food. So this will be interesting to see if that is actually the case or not.

Have you heard of Plastic Free July before? Is it something that you want to try this month? The website does have an challenge with tips and guides if you are looking for ways to reduce your plastic waste. I signed up and might share some of their tips in update posts. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Three Month Update – Worm Compost Edition

This post might come as a bit of a surprise. Three month update? That’s because it’s the first time I’m mentioning it here on the blog.

I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve learnt as I started this process and I think this is the best spot for it. I was debating doing it on Instagram where I original posted my adventures. But I have more to talk about than Insta will let me write.

So worm composting?

Worm composting or more technically, vermicomposting, is using worms to break down organic matter into “casing”, or better known as worm poop.

The reasons I was interested in trying it out are the following:

  • It’s faster than traditional home composting. Based on what I was reading, it takes weeks instead of months for the waste to breakdown.
  • It seemed better suited for food waste than traditional composting, which is mostly recommended for yard waste.
  • It doesn’t involve buying stuff like bokashi composting to add in for it to work.
  • The few Youtubers and blogs that I looked at actually kept their bins inside of the home. Assuming a heathy bin, the environment should be odorless. If you look worm composters online, there are some cute options that are actually a bench with the trays for food built in.

But, like, why?

As mentioned a bit in the areas above, I was attracted to the idea of vermicomposting because of the turnaround time to have a usable product. Also I live in a apartment building, I don’t have the space for normal composting.

In general, food is the largest waste generator in my life. My apartment isn’t really well set up to encourage composting (we have a municipal composting collection bins but there’s room for improvement). But beyond my apartment, I also don’t trust the City of Toronto composting program. Full disclosure: I’ve done no research on it, I just can’t wrap my head around them wanting us to put our organics in plastic bags for it to be collected.

So it feels bad to be cooking and throwing so much organic to waste. I haven’t been able to divert all my food waste, but I’m happy that some is being moved from the municipal system and I get to be more control of the process.

How’s the bin been going?

I won’t lie… The start was a little shaky. I started with 15 worms back in March. Keeping them outside unless I knew the weather was going to drop to freezing temps. My bin started with paper, a few dead plants, and some of my roommates rabbit’s poop. Sorta hoped that the poop being added would maybe help boost the temperature. (Fun fact: fresh animal poop is pretty warm since it’s filled with microbial activity. Typically, it’s recommended to wait, like, a day before adding it to compost bins since it could overheat the system).

I probably should have kept them indoors that this point. Worms are most active at temperatures of 15C (Americans, you can do the conversion yourself, but like thick hoodie weather). March doesn’t really hit those temperatures as often as you’d hope. Especially with the wind chill. I’m pretty sure I did lose some of them to the cold, and in general they weren’t doing anything.

I ended up buying another 50 worms in late April/early May. Since it was becoming increasingly more apparent that my bin wasn’t active. Since the few worms that were still left couldn’t worm through the small amounts of food I was giving them at this point.

Things got a lot more exciting after that point and I also learn a few things which I will put in a numbered list. Eat your heart-out Buzzfeed and Jenny Nicholson.

1. Worms f*ck

I don’t believe a lot of people think about how worms procreate. I certainly didn’t before I was reading a book about worm composting (Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof and Jonne Olszewski, great book if you want to start vermicomposting). The book has a chapter that covers the topic in more detail. But the ideal that if you cut a worm in half, and due to them having five hearts will make two worms is completely wrong. That will just kill the worm.

Withtout being graphic, to reproduce, worms do it, secrete a mucus to lay eggs. From there little worms are born.

2. Watering your worms, isn’t dissimilar to watering your plants

I definitely messed up the humidity levels for my bin for most of the time I’ve had the bin. Worms like high humidity (like 80% if I remember correctly), or to have your contents are the wetness of a rung out sponge.

I was really worried about my bin drying out, since the leaves at the top would be dry, I would be spraying the top almost daily to with water to try to keep the moisture up. 

If you own a house plant, you know the dangers of overwatering your plant. You see the top later is dry, so you assume the whole thing is, and ends up drowning the plant. I was doing something similar. It wasn’t till I dug down to the bottom of my bin (which isn’t deep, I just don’t like disturbing the worms) that I noticed how wet the whole thing was.

This level of humidity also was a breeding grown for other bugs (safe for to the worms, but gross). I ended up with (and still have) a lot of mites in my bin. No cute, and I rather not have them completing for the food.

When I discovered that, I was glad the bin was outside since it had gotten flies and in general wasn’t great to open up.

To fix it, I did tip my bin to the drainage hole I put in to get rid of some water, but also added a lot more paper to try to suck up the extra liquid.

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3. Carbon emissions bad, carbon to the bin good

In a traditional, non-worm compost bin, you need a combination of nitrogen and carbon to make the environment for the organics to break down. (https://www.livescience.com/63559-composting.html) I don’t know why I thought that a worm bin would be different? Too much nitrogen from food waste can create ammonia, mold and just mess up the environment of your bin.

I’m still trying to get the right ratio but I’ve been adding a bunch of paper into it when I add food waste. I keep a small collection of brown paper bags and paper from packages that come in, cut them up and add them to the bin. I can only imagine what my roommate thinks when I’m sitting at the table cutting up strips of paper since we don’t own a shredder.

4. Don’t over feed them

This also should have been more obvious to me than it was. At the beginning I just really wanted to give them food and if they had more food they will want to reproduce and then I will have more worms to eat more food.

Worms eat about half they weight a day, so once you have a lot of worms you can get a lot of food waste taken care of. But I didn’t have a lot of worms, and just giving them more and more food that wasn’t doing anything.

Especially since I was messing up the carbon levels to, so all I had was a bunch of food just sitting in there being extra gross. Like the carbon issue mentioned above, I’m still figuring out the right amount and frequency to feed them. This is mostly just me going into the bin every few days and see if stuff looks broken down. For a while I was tracking what and when I was added to the bin. But I quickly gave up because I kept forgetting to fill it out. It’s probably not a bad idea and most of the resources I read before starting recommended it. So that’s a do as I say, not as a do type of situation.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

That’s pretty much it. Let me know if you have any questions. When I’ve talked about the worm bin to my friends and family, they’ve been polite, but visibly confused about the process and the motivation. But it’s been a fun thing to work on and I’m just starting to reach the point where I can start getting the castings, and putting it on my garden. Which is really exciting!