Imagine having 500 of your own staff working round the clock to clean up all our rubbish. Live the dream with the Hungry Bin.
We might take pride in being foodie types who know that red lentils are orange and ‘quinoa’ doesn’t rhyme with ‘canoe’, but we still chuck an awful lot of the stuff away. About 50 percent of what goes out on our kerbsides is food waste – according to Statistics NZ, that’s about 740,000 tonnes a year. In alternative measuring systems, that’s 148,000 African elephants or 62,000 buses.
What’s the problem, since this stuff decomposes anyway? There’s all the time and energy spent collecting it from your street, not to mention that when organic matter breaks down in landfill it generates methane,
a greenhouse gas, while soil- nourishing nutrients are wasted.
But who has time to compost? Enter Ben Bell. Frustrated with the design of existing worm farms, he decided to take matters into his own hands and started messing around with broken rubbish bins.
The result? The Hungry Bin, a mostly automated, food-eating, fertiliser-producing factory staffed by worms. Its tapered shape means you don’t need to spend time stirring or airing what’s inside; as compost moves down, the worms naturally move to the surface for new food. Scraps go in the top and out the bottom comes superpowered garden compost and ‘worm juice’, a liquid fertiliser so strong you have to dilute it before you can add it to your parsley patch.
You don’t have to do much apart from feed your worms the right amount of the right stuff. They’re pretty low-maintenance, really. Unlike pets or employees, you don’t have to cuddle, walk or praise them, their poop doesn’t stink, and they’ll eat their own body weight each day – a whole Hungry Bin full of these little minions deals with about 2kg of waste per 24 hours. Pretty good for a waste disposal system that doesn’t require power or plumbing.
Since the Hungry Bin’s launch earlier this year, they’ve been picked up by cafés, restaurants, schools and businesses, including Idealog.
(Admittedly, getting people to chuck the right stuff in was a bit of a mission – worms aren’t keen on citrus or animal products, but will happily munch their way through produce, coffee grinds and paper towels.)
Because the bins are totally enclosed, they don’t attract vermin, and the lack of smell has also been a big drawcard, as they can sit on small balconies or patios.
Once the bin is up and running, you can decide which is better – the knowledge that you have 500 worms working for you around the clock, or that you can polish your existing halo up to a bright, shining green.