Autumn! November! Thanksgiving! It's the time of year where we make so much turkey that we're reinventing and eating turkey leftovers for days. So what happens when you have some leftover turkey you just can't finish? Or perhaps when you make it into a turkey sandwich that you accidentally forget about? Below we break down our Will They Eat It? experiments and offer feedback on how you can do this experiment at home in your mini-bin.
Nature's Little Recyclers handles a lot of lunch waste. From schools to skyscrapers, our worms are munching through your leftovers and turning them into soil. Back in 2014, while NLR still resided in The Plant, I accidentally left a sandwich in my pocket that I had bought for lunch. It was in my pocket for *drum roll* three whole days. Since it was no longer edible for human consumption, I decided to feed it to the worms and record what happened.
For our experiment, we used one 20-gallon bucket filled with two pounds of fully active worms and stored the bucket in a temperature range of 64 – 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
A quick fun fact before we get started: One redworm will eat 20 ounces of food materials in one year, the equivalent of 180 times their body.
Turkey Sandwich: Episode 1
For this experiment, we simply unwrapped the sandwich, placed the sandwich in the bin, and buried it. We did not treat it, break it up, or process it in anyway.
Turkey Sandwich: Episode 2
Two weeks later, we removed the sandwich. The sandwich had been eaten heavily at the edges, and it had turned into a mush, a wonderful microbial and bacterial mush that is favorited by worms to eat. Essentially, the sandwich was mostly converted, and it broke apart with ease.
Worms can eat and compost whole sandwiches, taking as little as a few weeks.
Do This Experiment at Home
Even though Nature's Little Recyclers performed this experiment with a whole sandwich, you can do this experiment yourself at home. This experiment is great for adults and kids alike looking to see and understand more about the compost process (and how their leftover turkey or school lunches get eaten!).
- To test this at home, take any sandwich you want to test (or a leftover piece of turkey) and cut it so that it is no larger than a two-inch square. If the sandwich has more than two pieces of meat, remove excess meat.
- Lift up the burlap, put the sandwich on the immediate surface under the burlap, and push it down one inch so that it is fully covered.
- When finished burying the sandwich, put the burlap back (and if dry, remoisten the burlap).
- After two weeks, push the compost away gently and take a look. Does it have worms around it? Has it changed its texture? How much did different parts break down (bread, veggies, meat)? How long does it take to break down?
Don't have a Mini-Bin but would like to compost at home? Or maybe you're looking for a friendly and low-maintenance pet for the kids? Purchase a Mini-Bin today for $24.99. Price includes kit, starter food, and worms.