Can I Feed My Worms Colored Newspaper?

by Michael
(Australia)

Hi Dave, I love the 4-part interview and what you are doing. My question, and you’ve probably heard this many times over. Our newspaper is mostly color print, is it save to feed to the worms in large quantities?


Regards, Michael

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Feb 24, 2012
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Worm Composting Bins and Colored Paper
by: Compost Junkie Dave

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your feedback on our interview with Gerrie from The Worm Factory. She is wonderful and I love spending time with her. Her farm definitely has good energy flowing from it. Sadly, her business is being jeopardized by The Worm Factory in the US. And guess who owns that company? Cascade Manufacturing - a PLASTICS company!!! I digress...

Re the newsprint - most newspapers nowadays, even those that are colored, are made using vegetable-based inks (i.e. soy). That means they won't be an issue (aside from the whole GMO thing, but that's another beast all together).

Where you may find a problem is with colored flyers and magazine paper. This paper usually has a high gloss to it, so it's easier to spot than the typical matte finish on newsprint. The gloss usually consists of a caulk substance (e.g. calcium carbonate) and various latex paint residues. You can still compost this glossed paper, however, pay attention to your quantities. By that I mean, don't make glossy colored paper the only bedding material in your worm bin. If you do have a lot of this type of paper, I'd consider composting it in an outdoor pile first and then processing it through your worm bin.

Does that help answer your question? If you need more detail, please let me know.

In case you missed it, below is the first video in our four part series on worm composting bins.


Feb 26, 2012
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Worms and grease
by: Glenn

I would like to post a caution with respect to Gerrie's comments about worms and meat/dairy products. While it is certainly true that worms eat anything of organic origin, the addition of too much greasy material can make their habitat deadly to them. If the bedding materials become saturated with grease, the worms can't breathe and quickly die. I learned this the hard way. I built a very large outdoor vermicomposting unit for a nursing home in Nova Scotia. It worked very well for a few months, then the worm population took a nose-dive. When I investigated, I found that the bedding (peat moss, hay, and shredded paper) had become totally saturated with grease. Virtually all the worms (more than 100 lbs, as I recall)had died or disappeared. I had to remove all the bedding and re-stock the system with worms. The problem was that the nursing home pureed much of the food to make it easier for the old folks to eat; as a result, the organic material added to the bin daily was like a greasy stew. After a few weeks of adding this material, the bedding became so saturated that it felt greasy to the touch.

I noticed that Gerrie recommended making a "smoothie" for the worms. I feel that this will not work well if the meat/dairy level is too high, as happened with me. If the pile is large enough that some thermophillic composting occurs prior to the worms entering the material, this problem will be reduced or eliminated.

Feb 26, 2012
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Sad Experience Leads to Great Learning Opportunity
by: Dave

Glenn,

thanks so much for this caution. I think it was necessary. That must have been so hard to see that worm bin collapse. But as I like to say..."sometimes you win, sometimes you learn", and it looks like this was (and continues to be) a great learning experience.

I think the main point to take away from all of this is "moderation". Yes, it's okay to put some meat and dairy in your worm bin, however, add it in moderation. Don't make meat, dairy, and grease your main food stuffs you're adding to your bin.

If you're really worried about this and it's causing you to loose sleep, avoid putting any meat or dairy product in your bin altogether.

Thanks again Glenn.

Feb 28, 2012
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Newspaper Colours
by: Anonymous

Hi David, thank you for your fast reply. I contacted our local paper and found out that they use petroleum-based coloured ink. And I had all these old newspapers collected.

I would be interested to know the different types of worm farm containers people use and are recommendable, since I'd love to increase my worms; however, I don't know what container to go with? Some worm farm containers can cost upwards of $600.
can you help out?

Great Web Site.
Michael

Feb 28, 2012
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Commercial Worm Bins
by: Dave

"I contacted our local paper and found out that they use petroleum-based coloured ink."

That's unfortunate, but aren't you glad you checked? Once you get your additional worm bins established, it might be worth running a little experiment with this type of paper. If you do choose to do this, please keep us posted.

As for your worm bin related question...yes, some of the commercial units can be quite expensive. What are you currently using?

In the nature of composting and recycling, I highly recommend up-cycling existing materials to build your own bin.

I am going to review a couple of these bins in the future, so we have a better idea of what does and doesn't work. At the end of the day, I am not a big fan of those multi-tiered plastic units. They may work, but one day, they'll be sitting in a landfill with a bunch of worms staring at them wondering "Now, what the heck are we supposed to do with this?" :-)

Thanks again for your feedback Michael.

d


Sep 19, 2015
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in RE: to Can I Feed My Worms Colored Newspaper?
by: Anonymous

The OMRI (The Organic Materials Review Institute) states:

Paper & Newspaper as feedstock:
Description:
Paper may only be used as a mulch or compost feedstock. Must be made from newspaper or other recycled paper, without glossy or colored inks.

So if you use newspaper with colored inks, know the OMRI restrictions.

Nov 28, 2015
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worm farm not producing NEW
by: dorothy

I have had a worm farm, and it has been very successful for 10 years. but.. this year the worms are not consuming the veges, I put in only things that work. but again.. the food is going mouldy because the worms are not feeding.
This problem is shared by two others. We are using wet cut up Newspaper. can this be the problem, and what else can I use for a base

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