Vermicomposting is a special type of composting, using worms to do the work.  It’s ideal for composting food wastes, because worms can process a large amount of food waste in a small area.  Many people vermicompost indoors because it’s more convenient than going outdoors to the compost pile, and in Chicago, worms can’t survive the winter without special insulation.  

A one-family size worm bin is approximately 2′ x 3′ by 10′ high; bins can be purchased or are an easy do-it-yourself project.   The vemicomposting process differs from standard composting. For a complete discussion, follow the links below for our Chicago Recycling Coalition’s Guide to Worm Composting . 

“Earth knows no desolation. She smells regeneration in the moist breath of decay” –   George Meredith

Chicago Recycling Coalition’s Guide to Composting


Vermicomposting FAQs

  • Does vermicomposting smell?   No.  Finished worm compost has a very light pleasant ‘earthy’ smell.  It doesn’t smell like what it really is–worm poop.
  • Will the worms escape? Almost never, and certainly not if you don’t leave the lid off. Why would they leave a warm, dark place where they are regularly fed?
  • Can I compost with earthworms from my backyard? No.  Earthworms do help in the composting process, but they are not the specialized species that produce large amounts of organic materials.  Vermicomposting worms are Lumbricus rubellus and Eisenia foetida, or ‘red wigglers.’
  • Will the worms bite?   No, they do not have teeth.
  • Who will watch the worms when I am on vacation?   Worms aren’t pets, and they can go for several weeks without attention.  The population regulates itself according to the food available.