How to Keep a Compost Bin in Your Office

So, what are you going to do with that apple core, those peapods, or uneaten carrot peelings from your lunch? Well, I can tell you what I do with them. I put them in my office compost bin. Pictured is a tub with a lid that sits in my office next to my computer desk. Yes, I stand at my desk – it’s great! Yes, I can’t have too many blue full-brimmed hats. And, yes, that is a worm-filled compost bin or a vermicomposter in my office.

L to R: Aaron’s office compost set up (and hat collection); adding some veggie scraps; a happy bin resident munching away on the compost.

[pullquote class=”right”]So what are you going to do with that apple core from lunch?[/pullquote]No, it does not smell bad or make my office smell funny. And it is super easy to set up and maintain. I kind of think of it as an office pet or pets because there are many more worms than I started with. I’ve not gone so far as to name any of them though. 

To get started, you will need: 

  1. A plastic container that fits in your office. Start small-ish. Maybe one of those $5 to $10 buckets with lids you can find at those everything-stores.
  2. Poke holes in the sides towards the top or in the lid, but not at bottom or in the bottom. If things get squishy, you don’t want it to leak.
  3. Place a layer at the bottom about an inch of shredded news paper or dry leaves
  4. 1-inch dirt. Any dirt or potting soil will do. I took my soil from my garden at home. (note: some vermicomposter experts will tell you that you don’t need or want soil. I think the soil helps keep things moist and provides a starter kinda like sourdough bread.) 
  5. Worms can be purchased from a bait shop, but be careful not to get invasive worms. I use what are called Big Reds, not to be confused with invasive jumping worms. 
  6. Add your scraps.

[pullquote class=”left”]I put mine in my office compost bin![/pullquote]A few tips. If you want to keep your worms happy and your compost from smelling or looking yucky, you can do the following. Avoid adding meat, dairy, onions, garlic, and sugary or processed foods. Keep the soil moist but not wet. Keep feeding your worm scraps and they will multiply. If you don’t, you might find they try to escape to look for food. If it does start to smell, get juicy, or you see mold, it is time to add more newspaper or dry leaves and turn or stir your compost.  

If you want to get started with a compost bin in your office or classroom and need help, send me an email ( and I’ll help you out. And once you have a nice batch of office pets going, send us a photo, we’d love to see how’s it’s going!

Aaron Wilson
Program Director, WEC