Our Vermicomposting Program
Back to Earth’s focus has been centralized around providing a sustainable waste management program for restaurants and grocery stores since our birth last year. While we have always wanted to offer a residential program, we have been unable to, until now. Thanks to some excellent ideas from community members and lots of careful planning and proofing we are ready to launch our Residential Vermicomposting Program! As we have found out over the last year, there are many of us whom don’t want to see our food waste at home taken to the landfill and turned into a pollutant. But we aren’t in a position or location to responsibly dispose of it ourselves and there is no one offering us an alternative! This is no longer the case. With the launching of this new program, it gives Fort Wayne residents the opportunity to become part of a solution and reduce their personal carbon footprints. Participating member’s will be able to rest easier having the peace of mind that their personal food waste is no longer contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and they are moving down a more sustainable path. Now their food waste will be converted into earth-friendly worm castings that aid in plant growth and health, to help preserve what remains of our natural world for our children and children’s children to enjoy.
For specific info on the environmental benefits of vermicomposting vs landfilling click here
How the Program Works:
You sign up here, on this page below, through PayPal. We send you an email, with all the necessary information like pictures, specific drop-off locations, bin-codes, a welcoming address, etc. You add a small container, of your choice, into your freezer for you to put your appropriate food waste into. Empty your container at one of our convenient drop-off locations, at your leisure. You take your container back with you and repeat the process. We come and pick up the big bins from the drop-off locations and replace them with clean ones, weekly. We take the bins back to our facility, prepare it for our worms and feed it to them, then they turn it into a rich organic fertilizer that helps store carbon taken from our atmosphere, we call the material vermicastings. After a full 12 months of continuous membership, we will send you a big bag of vermicastings that you helped to create, for free! Use it in your landscaping or garden and marvel at the positive impact it has on your plants!
What is Vermicomposting?
Vermicomposting is simply the use of earthworms to convert organic waste into vermicastings otherwise known as worm castings. Worm castings are small organic particles that have passed through the gut of an earthworm.
TWO Collection Methods:
Collection Method: Freezer Container
Doesn’t it smell?
A concern that many people have about participating in the program is about smell and fruit flies. We want to make being environmentally responsible as easy as possible for you and your family! Which means, no odors and no pesky pest. Both issues are totally avoided by using your freezer. Smell is driven by decomposition. Pest like fruit flies, are attracted to the smell produced by the decomposition of your food scraps. Decomposition speed is driven by temperature, the lower the temperature the less decomposition. So, by storing your food scraps in your freezer you completely stop decomposition, thereby stopping any smell, thereby stopping any pest from showing up! This means you could go weeks or even months at a time before doing a drop off, without any nastiness! This option is Back to Earth’s preferred option. If this option doesn’t work for you don’t worry, we also offer a more traditional option discussed later.
What type and size of container?
Everyone has a different sized freezer, use different amounts of space in it and produces different amounts of fruit and vegetable waste. So, pick a container out of your cupboard that is a happy medium between the three. This is what we use in our home.
Collection Method: Back to Earth Vermicastings (BTEV) Bucket
How does it Work?
With this collection method you have the option to buy the starter pack pictured above ($9.95) or source your own bucket and lid. If you opt to buy the starter pack you will receive a 3.5-gallon BTEV bucket with an airtight lid. Place appropriate scraps into your bucket then empty it at any one of our drop-off locations, whenever you please. Take your bucket home with you and repeat the process.
You can store your bucket wherever you want. Storing your bucket in a cool place out of direct sunlight will slow the decomposition process but not stop it. Utilizing the airtight lid keeps pest such as fruit flies showing up and also doesn’t allow for any potential odors to escape into your home. You can very easily go 10-14 days between emptying your bucket and not have foul odors if you store it in a cool location out of direct sunlight, as long as you are opening and adding scraps to your bucket every couple days.
What do I put in my container?
The species of worm that we work with are red wigglers. They occupy the top few inches of a healthy soil profile and eat decomposing organic matter. The main food type that we feed our worms is pre-consumer fruit and vegetable waste. We do not feed our worms proteins, or grains like meats, eggs, or breads so do not put these items in your bucket. We also ask that you don’t put pits from peaches, cherries, and avocadoes, etc., into your container, these are way too hard for our worms to breakdown.
All fruit and vegetable scraps are welcome in your bucket along with spent coffee grounds, tea bags(minus staples), and egg shells.
Where do I take my container?
Currently we have 3 drop-off locations (more locations will be added). We have drop-off locations near businesses at these intersections. All of which are right across the street from major grocery stores and well-traveled roads, making adding a food scrap drop-off incredibly convenient during errand running such as grocery shopping!
- Coldwater Road and Dupont Road Area
- Washington Center Road and Lima Road Area
- Scotts Road and Illinois Road Area
We will always be looking to add drop-off points around the area and improve our program to make participating as easy and convenient as possible. If you are interested in hosting or know someone that would be interested in hosting a drop-off point at a place of business, please email us.
How Easy is it?
It is super easy! Instead of throwing fruit and vegetable scraps in your trash to smell, attract pest and go to the landfill, throw it in your freezer or bucket and occasionally bring it to us, when you are out running errands! We will turn it into a value-added product that you then get to use on your plants at home all while helping our planet.
Why Join Our Team?
Most of us want to be environmentally friendly; we don’t want to hurt our planet. But we all live busy lives, maybe we don’t have the time to learn how to vermicompost or we live in an apartment or neighborhood where we aren’t allowed too or don’t have the space to do it. Our program is an opportunity for people to be environmentally friendly without doing the dirty bits. It is designed to take the legwork out of vermicomposting for you without you losing out on its rewards. You get it to us; we do the legwork and get the end-product back to you.
What do I have to lose?
It is incredibly low risk. If you do it for a month or two then decide that participating in our environmentally sustainable program isn’t right for you, just unsubscribe, no hoops or gates to jump through.
Membership Cost and Benefits:
$7.95 Per Month
After a full year of consecutive membership, you become eligible to receive a free big bag of our worm castings that you helped to create! That is a $25 value! Follow the guide on our website for product usage and see for yourself the difference that our worm castings can make in your garden and landscaping.
$90 Per Year
When you sign up for an annual membership you become instantly eligible for TWO free big bags of our worm castings! That is a $50 value along with an additional savings of $5 over monthly membership! That is $55 in total savings and you can get your worm castings right away!
BTEV Bucket With Air Tight Lid:
$9.95 Purchase Price
One time fee for bucket and lid. It won't have to be returned if you opt out of the program.
Upon sign-up we will send an email, with a welcoming address, specific drop-off locations, pictures, and drop-off location codes. Every June and December we will send out a newsletter (via email) to all members with information about how much food waste our membership community has kept out of the local landfill and its positive environmental impacts. In addition to this, members will receive a discount code for all purchases made on our online store. Our online store is NOT up and running yet and we hope to have it running by the end of 2020.
Payment and refunding:
This program will run as a subscription service. Monthly members will be billed on a monthly basis and annual members will be billed on an annual basis. If at any point a member would like to cancel their membership, they will be able to do so. They will not be able to get a refund their membership. For example, if an individual signs up for the annual membership and decide 5 months in that they no longer want to continue with the program, we will not be able to refund them for the remaining 7 months. If they do cancel their membership, they will be able to continue to participate in the program until their paid time period runs out. Starter packs are also not refundable. We hope that you will join us on this exciting journey to make Fort Wayne a more environmentally sustainable place to live. We believe that our trashcans should not be the end of the story for our food but just the beginnings of another chapter in a long cycle to feed us again. After all, this is how mother nature intended it to be.