A Worm Composting System Without Plastic

I wanted to issue a warning about using plastic bins as part of your worm composting system. In short, I no longer recommend doing it. Instead, build your own worm bin out of wood or other recycled materials.

I see many other sites and books recommending the use of a Rubbermaid compost bin for your worms, heck, I even used to recommend it, but not any more. The video below helps demonstrate why I've had a change of heart...





Note - The Rubbermaid compost bin in the above video did not have any holes drilled in it for drainage, so it exaggerated the disadvantages of using plastic. However, I've spoken with several professional worm farmers, all of which said, "AVOID using plastic worm bins!" These guys make a living off of composting worms, so I don't take their warning lightly.

On that note, I want to be clear about the underlying message in this article - I am NOT saying the use of a plastic worm bins does not work. They do "work", but they're not ideal and there are more effective and cheaper options.

The Disadvantages of Using Plastic

To build a successful worm composting system, you want to consider several key factors, including oxygen, moisture, food, bedding, pH, temperature, etc. The disadvantages of using a plastic worm bin primarily affect three of these factors - oxygen, moisture, and temperature.

  • Oxygen - Plastic does not breathe, so there is a very high likelihood that your bin will go anaerobic. That means odors and an unhealthy living environment for your worms.


  • Moisture - Since plastic doesn't breathe, moisture tends to accumulate in the bin. This then contributes to decreasing oxygen levels and you may run into anaerobic conditions again. If you still plan to use a plastic bin after reading this, you MUST drill a lot of holes in the bottom and sides of the bin to increase air flow and drainage.


  • Temperature - Plastic does not regulate temperature very efficiently. Remember, composting worms thrive in temperatures between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit, so the better you can maintain this zone (or at least 55-75 degree Fahrenheit), the more productive your worm composting system.

In Conclusion...

Our landfills already have enough plastic in them, let's not add to the problem. Instead, be a true Compost Junkie and build your own worm composting system by upcycling material that you have lying around your house. Or visit a thrift store (the Habitat for Humanity Restore is a great place to start) and purchase some gently used construction materials (e.g. wood planks, cupboard doors, shelving units, drawers) and then start building!

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Worm Composting Troubleshooting

Below are a couple links to other worm composting pages that deal with some of the most common problems with worm bins.

Fruit Flies In My Worm Bin

We have been trying to vermicompost for months now but we keep getting fruit flies in our bin. It's cold where we are in the winter so I'm not sure...

Mites In My Worm Bin

I found gold coloured mites in my worm bin. I only feed the worms mulched up veggie waste and shredded paper and cardboard but...


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