HOW TO – GET RID OF ALL THAT EXTRA CARDBOARD
It is the end of the year again and we all know what that brings us…more cardboard boxes!!
As my wife says, our travel trailer is starting to look a lot like an Amazon Distribution Center! Not all are from our orders. Friends and family have been sending us Amazon orders the past few weeks for Christmas gifts…lots and lots of boxes.
- Do you make a lot of online orders?
- Do you receive a lot of cardboard boxes?
- Are you tired of breaking down all those boxes to fit into the recycling bin?
- Do you wish there was a better way to get rid of those cardboard boxes?
- Do you start feeling guilty getting all those cardboard boxes?
Well…here is an idea for you…if you haven’t already, start up on Vermicomposting.
Vermicomposting is a method of composting using worms, typically with a species called Red Wigglers. These worms look a lot like your typical earthworm, just a bit smaller and they are not as good for fishing (so I hear. Do the fish really care?). Red Wigglers are great for composting and they are well known for this process.
These Red Wigglers will break down food scraps and turn them into a compost material known as worm castings, or “Black Gold”, or just the good old worm poop. Black Gold is a term used by many people that do vermicomposting. I have heard that this Black Gold is considered as one of the world’s richest composts due to being so nutrient rich.
So, what to do with all that cardboard and why Vermicomposting?
Feed the worms the cardboard! They love it! They will breakdown all that cardboard you give them and turn that cardboard into the “Black Gold”.
There will be some work involved still and you may wonder “How is this easier than just breaking down the cardboard and throwing it away?” Well, its not. Sorry. But, the outcome makes it much more worth the effort since your plants will be thanking you and you could feel a little better about your contribution to the environment; other than all your crazy online ordering.
How to do it?
- Start setting up a worm composting bin (More on this in an upcoming post or you can go do a little research online)
- Prep the cardboard:
- Tear it! Shred it! Cut it! Go crazy with it!…Make it fun. Have the kids help.
- I have been cutting my cardboard down to about two inch squarish pieces using my bandsaw. Sometimes I tear it by hand if it is in small amounts. If you don’t have an easy way to cut it, try soaking it in water first to make it easier to tear.
- Remove the tape, especially the plastic type.
- Remove staples, if any exist.
- Soak the cardboard in water if you want. I have not yet soaked my cardboard in water, but I have heard that many other people do so. Soaking it will allow the cardboard to become a lot softer, quicker. I typically do not soak the cardboard first because I want it to soak up any excess moisture in my bins.
- Put the cardboard in with the worms.
- I like to bury my cardboard pieces under the worm bedding because fuzzy white mold grows on it if I don’t. That mold doesn’t seem to hurt anything, but I don’t particularly care for it.
- Sometimes I leave a larger sheet of cardboard on top of the worm bedding. It still disappears pretty quickly as long as moisture gets to it to soften it. When my worm beds need a little more moisture, I just sprinkle a little water directly on top of this sheet of cardboard.
- In a few weeks, your cardboard may be gone. Time to add more!
- Keep adding the cardboard as you see the previously added cardboard disappear.
- Depending on how many worms you have, will depend on how fast the cardboard disappears, along with how much other food they have in their bin.
What are the Benefits:
- The worms love it!
- The plants love it!
- No transportation to the recycling center.
- No industrial processes from the recycling.
- Having a worm compost bin, expect that the kids will want to be involved. There is something about it that gets their attention and they have fun with it.
What to avoid:
- Tape, the clear plastic type. The paper type is probably okay.
- White cardboard. This stuff may be bleached, which might not be good for the worms (At least some people say this isn’t good for the worms, who knows). Just stick with the brown cardboard to be safe, which is typically what Amazon delivers with anyways.
- White labels. Again, these may be bleached.
- DO NOT rely on just cardboard for the food. I highly recommend a balanced diet for the worms. How would you like to eat the same darn thing everyday, all day long? Give them variety!
- Have fun and feel good about it!
Keep an eye out for these upcoming posts:
- How to – Start a worm composting bin, cheaply
- How to – Harvest the worm castings
- How to – Feed my worms