At Seep, we believe in reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill and so all of our cleaning tools are compostable. Composting is one of the easiest ways individuals can reduce their waste however over 90% of UK households currently don’t compost.
So we went on a search for a composting aficionado to help us make the leap and found the incredible Heather Gorringe who is the founder of home composting and wormery business Wiggly Wigglers. The founder of Seep, Laura Harnett spoke with Heather who demystified compost and shared her years of experience with her favourite creature - worms!
Laura: Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom Heather! It would be great if you could introduce yourself and Wiggly Wigglers and talk a bit about what inspired you.
Well, originally - which is a million years ago - I had a little print business and my dad had some pedigree Suffolk Sheep. Outside of the window was a big heap of manure and it basically kept piling up until I couldn’t see over the top of the manure. We didn’t have enough land to spread it, so I wondered if I could reduce the size of the heap by composting. So, I started reading books on composting and got really excited about the idea of reducing the volume of waste and using worms because worms are seriously cool!
I set up a trial in the shed with an apple box and lo and behold, around 80% less volume came out. I always wanted my own business so I decided this was something I had to do. This was around 1990 so it was a completely ridiculous idea as nobody was talking about recycling or composting, let alone doing it at home. The early versions weren’t very good but thanks to lots of feedback we were able to refine our products and gradually find ways to encourage people to compost at home. Then the world changed and the world went composting mad!
Now, we have a very lovely business on our farm in Herefordshire where we supply people who are enthusiastic about their gardens and reducing waste. It’s just spot on, I love it!
Laura: Despite this boom, a very small percentage of UK households compost at the moment. Why should we all be composting more?
With composting you can take the waste you’re producing in your house and you can put it in an ecosystem and in the meantime educate yourself and your family. It’s such a brilliant way of closing your loop and reminds me of farming. On a farm you’ve got the cows, they poo, that encourages the land to grow crops which feed the cows - and the circle goes on.
Laura: Why do you think so many people out there don’t compost.
I think it’s because the waste will be collected either way. A lot of us like to think waste is being recycled in a beautiful way, producing beautiful bags of compost. In real life that’s unlikely to be happening as there’s a lot of contaminants and transport. We often don’t realise the impact we’re having with the volume of waste we’re producing - food too!
Laura: So how do we get more people composting, especially those people who don’t have much space? What is the easiest way to get started?
If you don’t mind the idea of worms, I would 100% get a small worm composter. The compost you produce is second to none. The only problem is that worms are not a machine. Lots of people think it’s a waste disposal unit though, you put the waste in and that’s the end of it - worms aren’t like that.
If I was in a flat, I would definitely use a bokashi because you don’t have to think about it. Bokashi is such a cool process. Essentially you are pickling waste with super effective microorganisms and making a product that is useful.
Laura: So once you’ve got a compost, wormery or bokashi what are your top tips for making you’re producing awesome compost? First up, how do you get rid of flies?
You definitely shouldn’t have to put up with flies. The reason they’re being attracted is one of two things: you may have a smelly kit so the worms are working in the waste or you’ve put flies in with the waste. So get the waste added to the compost as soon as you can to minimise any flies going in and, when they’re in there, make sure your worms are working below the surface.
Worms are simple creatures, they need air, moisture and a PH level of around neutral. Once you get those three things ticking over in your mind - and remember it’s a process not a machine - then it’s all fairly simple.
Laura: Are there any things you definitely shouldn’t put in?
Everything in life is a balance. I have a customer who was putting lots of porridge in so the worms didn’t have any air - so they can’t operate. I had another customer who had a juice bar so he was putting too much citrus in. Personally, I never add lots of meat. It’s not that the worms are against it, but if there’s anything that will cause a smell or flies, it’s meat.
Laura: What about egg shells?
Egg shells are really good! Worms in the natural environment use stone and grit in their bodies to process the waste but in wormeries there isn’t any. Egg shells are a great alternative.
Laura: If you’re considering launching into composting, are wormeries easier than doing a traditional compost.
I wouldn’t look at it as getting it right or wrong. It doesn’t matter what you do, composting will happen. Whether it’s bokashi, worms, or hot composting, they’re all fairly simple. It’s just a question of allowing yourself to go with the flow.
Laura: So the message is, you can’t go wrong. Just give it a try. So how can people find out more about Wiggly Wigglers?
The starting place is our website or Facebook where there are lots of videos on the website so you can get going without spending any money. But, if you fancy investing in some composting stuff you know where we are!