In 2010, I co-founded a worm composting venture with three friends. The idea of the venture was conceived due to our aspiration of creating a more sustainable form of living, and reducing the waste pollution in Singapore. We offer two types of worm composting bins – Can-O-Worms system and Worm4kids. The former is a professional worm composting system, while the latter is a DIY type of bins targeted more towards the children.
For more information about my business: http://www.worm-compost-bins.com/
Our venture being featured on The Nanyang Chronicle
(Source: The Nanyang Chronicle, September 20, 2010)
How does worm composting work?
To begin, one would need a worm compost bin, with organic fertilizer and vermicomposting worms. Then, people can simply dump their waste like papers, food waste into the bin. The rest of the work i.e. decomposition will be done by the worms, as simple as that. This practice substantially reduces the waste generated from each household. The beauty of the worm composting bin lies not only in the decomposition of waste. But also in the secondary product of the bin i.e. worm castings and worm tea. In simple terms, worm castings and tea are the ‘waste’ material from the worms. You might think what is the beauty of these ‘waste’? Well, the castings and tea are a very pure and premium form of organic fertilizers any gardeners can wish for. As such, this bin not only decomposes our waste but also produces free organic fertilizers. As long as your household waste comes in, the worms will produce free organic fertilizers for you! What a beauty, isn’t it?
Can-O-Worms system Worm4kids
Importance and relevance of worm composting
There are two functions of the worm composting bins. One – It reduces waste pollution. Imagine the possibility of all Singaporeans using such bins. Waste from households will be significantly reduced, leading to lesser waste pollution. With lesser waste, it may lead to lesser water and air pollution. Two — the bins can continuously produce organic fertilizers like worm castings and tea. This may serve as a form of positive reinforcement/incentive for home users. More home waste deposited in the bin means more organic fertilizers collected. As such, people may be more enthusiastic to worm compost, at least for its tangible benefits i.e. worm castings and tea.
It is also important to target the younger children as well, not just grownups. This is because childhood experience is shown to be important in shaping one’s identity and attitude. Exposing kids to worms, organic fertilizers while educating them about the benefits of such green practices can enhance their receptivity to green practices in the future.
Personal thoughts and Challenges
Anyone can make their own compost bin but it is time consuming and troublesome. In fact, during the early days of our worm composting business, we also built our very own worm compost bins (refer to pictures below). But we realised very quickly that external factors like inconvenience may deter some Singaporeans from worm composting. Thus for the convenience of our customers to kick-start their worm compost practice, we imported a professional system, Can-O-Worms system and went around installing the system for our customers free of charge.
Our DIY bins at home
Even though, our company make the installation of the worm compost as convenient as possible for our customers, and market it at a relatively affordable price at S$280, the response of our business concept is lukewarm at best. I figure out that it can be distilled to two reasons.
1) No doubt the various benefits the bins can bring like reducing waste, producing free fertilizers etc. One major problem is most Singaporeans’ lack of awareness, knowledge and motivation. Many Singaporeans are not even aware of the existence of such green products. And even if they do, and know the benefits it brings, most are simply not motivated. Their lack of motivation could be due to their lack of gardening experience, thus incentives like getting free organic fertilizer from the system means very little to them.
2) Unlike countries like Australia and New Zealand, there is a lack of worm composting norm in Singapore. The absence of this norm could mean two things. One – Singaporeans will not be able to get information about worm composting so easily. Two – Locals would have no pressure to “conform” to the worm composting norm. However the question of whether is it the lack of worm composting norm that leads to Singaporeans’ lack of knowledge and motivation, or vice-versa is really open to debate.