VeggieBoards banner

Poll: Do You Think Composting With Worms Is Ethical?

21 - 40 of 74 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
2,861 Posts
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>lovely_rita</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br><b>Is composting with captive worms ethical? (In worm bins, wormeries, etc.)</b></div>
</div>
<br><i>Captive</i> worms?<br><br><br><br>
Probably not but then no more unethical than keeping birds in cages, fish in tanks, dogs on leads, horses in stables ... <i>etcetera</i> ..<br><br><br><br>
I have a composter that is absolutely alive with worms. They all entered of their own free will and are free to leave of their own free will when they are ready.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,160 Posts
If you go and buy/catch a load of worms and plonk them in a composter... sure.<br><br><br><br>
I have a compost bin in my garden, all sorts of things have chosen to live in there and eat the table/garden scraps. That isn't unethical in my view.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,250 Posts
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Annette Parkes</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I wouldn't go out and buy worms, or anything of that sort. It is not needed in my case. My compost heap consists of a large wooden box, filled with compost and the bottom is open to the ground. If composting is somehow wrong, I don't want to be right. =/</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
I don't think anyone has a problem with that. It's buying worms that I have an issue with.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #24 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Captive worms?<br><br><br><br>
Probably not but then no more unethical than keeping birds in cages, fish in tanks, dogs on leads, horses in stables ... etcetera ..<br><br><br><br>
I have a composter that is absolutely alive with worms. They all entered of their own free will and are free to leave of their own free will when they are ready.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
Well, I used the word "captive" because I wanted to be clear in what I was asking - I wanted to be clear that I did not mean worms that are in compost outside, but rather worms that are in a vermiculture bin inside of a house. (Or the bin could be outside, but mine is inside, mostly because where I live it is too cold 8 months out of the year to keep them outside).<br><br><br><br>
I didn't want a bunch of people voting yes and then later coming back and being like "Wait. CAPTIVE worms? Oh no no!" lol.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #25 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">I don't think anyone has a problem with that. It's buying worms that I have an issue with.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
Well, the problem with "collecting" these worms without buying them is that the only place you can find them is other people's compost bins or in a big pile of manure. That's the only two places they live, precisely BECAUSE they don't "come and go" like regular earthworms do. Composting worms are red wigglers (Eisenia foetida), also known as "manure worms". They're not the earthworms that you can go and pick up on the road after a rain. Red wigglers are non-migratory so once they find a comfortable place that supplies with a plentiful food source, they stick around.<br><br><br><br>
I will admit that I paid for mine. I don't feel badly about it and I'll tell you why. When I decided I wanted to start composting, it was the middle of winter. I had no access to anyone's outdoor compost and to be honest, I am not going to go picking through manure. Partly because you need at least a few hundred worms to start (ideally at least 1,000) and I can't imagine spending hours on my knees picking through manure to find myself a few hundred worms. There is a guy who lives a few hours from my house and he has about 10 composting bins set up in his basement. He works at the whole foods store in his town which also runs a co-op garden. He uses a lot of his worm poo on those gardens. He also travels around Maine showing people how to compost with worms and he teaches classes in organic gardening, etc.<br><br><br><br>
The "price" I paid for my worms is more of a suggested donation, and it is what helps keep his venture going so that he can reach more people and spread the knowledge of composting with worms. I have no problem giving him $ in exchange for his services. I don't feel I "bought" the worms - more so that I paid him for his knowledge and help. In addition to the worms, he also e-mailed me several times to answer questions and assist me in setting up my bin. When he gave me the worms, he also gave me some educational material about organic gardening, etc.<br><br><br><br>
He doesn't "breed" his worms and then make this huge profit on them. When I contacted him to ask for worms, he literally went down to his basement, opened a compost bin, and scooped up a pail of worms (mixed with compost) for me. Through our e-mails, he made sure that my bin was safe and acceptable and that I knew what I was doing. I thought he was thorough and caring and passionate about his "cause", which I fully support. And I was glad to compensate him for his time and effort.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Also, two points because someone will probably ask.<br><br><br><br>
1) He also composts outside at both his garden and at the co-op garden. His indoor composting came about when he decided that in addition to using his own compost, he wanted to get others involved with vermicomposting and he draws from his inside compost bins when he is distributing worms to others. But he does use both indoor and outdoor compost on his own gardening ventures as well.<br><br><br><br>
2) He keeps them in the basement not because he is mean and wants them out of his way. Worm compost can get warm. It is always warmer than room temperature and the guys like to stay cool, and a basement is usually the perfect place for them, not only because it tends to be cooler, but because it tends to be darker and they are not fans of light. I keep mine in my kitchen, but the bin is opaque (doesn't let light in) and when I check on them or feed them, it is always at night with the kitchen light off, using the hall light to see. I don't have a basement but our apartment stays pretty cool.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,983 Posts
I didn't vote in the poll because I don't identify as vegan. Most of my friends think I'm vegan though I tell them otherwise, but they tend to discount secondary sources of eggs and dairy, and I don't.<br><br><br><br>
I don't compost either, but my understanding is that worm bins are usually stocked with red wrigglers, while compost heaps tend to have earthworms that find their own way there. And that red wrigglers, which are bred for sale, make for superior vermiculture compost. There's probably research on how red wrigglers live in the wild, like how large a territory one worm travels when at liberty, whether they are social creatures, how close they live to their buddies when they're not in a bin. To me it would come down to how closely the captive life approximates the wild life. And like whoever wrote that note on the Vegan Society site, I'd think that whether it's ethical would depend on how conscientiously the composter looks out for their well-being. If I were a red wriggler, I'd rather be sold to a composter than to a fisherman.<br><br><br><br>
I don't see the issue here as hair-splitting, exactly, but it's a pretty good wedge issue that teases out the different philosophies between those who become veg*n for the environment vs people who get into it because of the animals. One doesn't rule out the other of course, and usually it's a combination. But whichever reason got you into it in the first place, I think that would predict fairly accurately which side you'd come down on re composting worms.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Joan Kennedy - You must have been writing this as I was writing my last post, because I actually talked a bit about their preferred living conditions in their natural environment, and how worm bins replicate it pretty closely.<br><br><br><br>
And yes, red wigglers are the best composters and they are often used as fish bait. (I would NEVER buy my worms from a bait shop, though I know that some do) Maybe I'd be liberating them from their fate, but I'd also be supporting the bait shop at the time, so no go on that one.<br><br><br><br>
I definitely became veg*n because of how I feel about animals. I honestly didn't really know the environmental impact that factory farming is making until AFTER I made the choice and started reading more about it. I became veg*n after watching Glass Walls.<br><br><br><br>
Now, I would say it's a combination of the two, but it definitely started because I do not want to be a part of an industry that causes suffering.<br><br><br><br>
Having said that, my worms are far from suffering. I have no intent to eat them or to kill them, I take good care of them. While I may not say that I think it is 100% vegan, I will say that I think it is ethical.<br><br><br><br>
Yes, you can compost without worms. However, composting *with* worms creates superior organic compost and the better the compost, the better the soil and the less prone to disease and insect pests the plants are. I think it's a win/win for everyone.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,160 Posts
However "nicely" he looks after the worms, they aren't his to sell or trade and they're not yours to purchase. They're not parts of a machine you can buy to make your life easier or more convenient, they are creatures with their own motivations and lives, however sentient or conscious they may be. Having a compost bin that animals can move in to if they like because they are searching for food and fulfilling their own motivations is very different from buying them with the view to exploiting them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,250 Posts
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Earthling</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
However "nicely" he looks after the worms, they aren't his to sell or trade and they're not yours to purchase. They're not parts of a machine you can buy to make your life easier or more convenient, they are creatures with their own motivations and lives, however sentient or conscious they may be. Having a compost bin that animals can move in to if they like because they are searching for food and fulfilling their own motivations is very different from buying them with the view to exploiting them.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
+1
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #31 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">However "nicely" he looks after the worms, they aren't his to sell or trade and they're not yours to purchase.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
I paid the shelter $75 to bring home my kitty.<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><br>
They're not parts of a machine you can buy to make your life easier or more convenient, they are creatures with their own motivations and lives, however sentient or conscious they may be.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
I didn't get them to make my life easier or more convenient. I don't even have any houseplants, let alone a garden. I got them because I was tired of throwing food waste in the dumpster so it could end up in a landfill somewhere, and upon researching my options, this seemed like the most beneficial to the environment. I'll be giving the poo away to a friend who gardens. He gets fertilizer, the worms get food - it's all good.<br><br><br><br>
I really have been mulling this over ever since I got involved in this discussion. I want you guys to know that I am thinking about everything being thrown out there. And while I can understand your logic in the position you take, I just don't see how it's hurting anyone. It certainly isn't any worse than having pets, in my opinion, which people pay for every day to bring into their home. (I'm still talking shelters here, not pet stores)<br><br><br><br>
So I feel ok with having them. I think it's ecologically responsible and I think they're living a pretty swell life.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,032 Posts
I do not find it ethical at all.<br><br><br><br>
I don't understand how confining another creature for my own means can not be considered exploitation. People seem to bring up bees with honey, or horses with horseback riding and so on and justify it because, "they live such great lives" or "I'm not doing anything wrong to them, in fact I'm 'enriching' their lives" and so on. I find it all justification.<br><br><br><br>
No matter how one tries to justify it, the honest truth is confining a sentient creature for personal ends is exploitation. I believe exploitation is unethical, so confining worms to a box and even if it's a 'pretty good life' by human standards, it's still exploitation.<br><br><br><br>
This is even without discussion of the huge population explosion which happens in these bins and confined areas. Do worms know about the limited food supply (albeit possibly steady food supply) and therefor reduce pregnancies or do they simply breed and therefor at least some if not many worms starve due to not enough food? Or is there enough food to continue to feed the ever growing worm population in the bins? (I doubt the second).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #33 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">This is even without discussion of the huge population explosion which happens in these bins and confined areas. Do worms know about the limited food supply (albeit possibly steady food supply) and therefor reduce pregnancies or do they simply breed and therefor at least some if not many worms starve due to not enough food? Or is there enough food to continue to feed the ever growing worm population in the bins? (I doubt the second).</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
Breeding worms can lay two or three cocoons per week that will hatch in 21 days, with each cocoon hatching two or three worms that will mature in 60 to 90 days. A worm population eventually stabilizes at levels that can be supported by the food scraps added, and by the availability of room to move and breed.<br><br><br><br>
In my *own* personal experience, there has always been enough food. Like I have mentioned in this thread or the other thread, I check on my worms each night before I go to bed. I always check to make sure there is food in there for them. With two kids eating me out of house and home, this has never been a problem.<br><br><br><br>
With the questions that are being asked by those who don't think it is ethical, I am getting the idea that people don't know much about it. I understand that the argument may be "I don't need to know the details, because keeping them is wrong no matter what the conditions" and that is a completely valid argument. But I also encourage you to learn more about it so that you can understand better why other people don't think it's wrong. It's not like we're just throwing a bunch of worms into a box and telling them "Get to work!"
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,032 Posts
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>lovely_rita</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Breeding worms can lay two or three cocoons per week that will hatch in 21 days, with each cocoon hatching two or three worms that will mature in 60 to 90 days. A worm population eventually stabilizes at levels that can be supported by the food scraps added, and by the availability of room to move and breed.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
'Eventually stabilizes'? What do you think that means exactly? It's not like they stop breeding. They have no predators, I suspect you don't introduce (intentionally at least) some disease or parasite which kills them. Stating that the 'population eventually stabilizes' seems like it's not exactly clear to you what is going on.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>lovely_rita</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
In my *own* personal experience, there has always been enough food. Like I have mentioned in this thread or the other thread, I check on my worms each night before I go to bed. I always check to make sure there is food in there for them. With two kids eating me out of house and home, this has never been a problem.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
Well, the effectively unbounded population growth (the only limiting factor seems to be space and food) is a side discussion. One I was pointing out to indicate that it's not just 'swell' place. Maybe by naive human standards it is, but that doesn't make it reality.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>lovely_rita</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
With the questions that are being asked by those who don't think it is ethical, I am getting the idea that people don't know much about it. I understand that the argument may be "I don't need to know the details, because keeping them is wrong no matter what the conditions" and that is a completely valid argument. But I also encourage you to learn more about it so that you can understand better why other people don't think it's wrong. It's not like we're just throwing a bunch of worms into a box and telling them "Get to work!"</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
Yes of course, this is also the justification people use to continue exploiting all sorts of sentient creatures. You're just strawmanning people's positions with this comment though.<br><br><br><br>
My questions were more rhetorical than actually required an answer. Since it's pretty clear what happens to populations of any creature when they're confined, but given a steady stream of food. However like I stated, that is just a side discussion about it not exactly being a 'swell place.'
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,983 Posts
If worm populations were that out of control in vermiculture bins, worms would not be going for upwards of 25 dollars a pound! I have to give props to anyone who takes the time and care to grow their family vegetables organically, or help others with their gardening. Environmental ethics are ethics as surely and purely as animal rights ethics, and I see no genuine contradictions between the two. So many of my own decisions are still made to make my life easier and more convenient: for convenience, my vegetables come from the Frozen Food aisle and the Produce section of my supermarket. And for all I know the fresh produce is prolonged with shellac, which exploits critters much worse than being cosseted in a dark moist worm bin buffet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25,067 Posts
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Joan Kennedy</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Environmental ethics are ethics as surely and purely as animal rights ethics, and I see no genuine contradictions between the two.</div>
</div>
<br>
It depends. Animal rights ethics emphasize the moral status of the individual. Environmental ethics sometimes only focus on the totality.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
221 Posts
Discussion Starter · #37 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><br>
'Eventually stabilizes'? What do you think that means exactly? It's not like they stop breeding. They have no predators, I suspect you don't introduce (intentionally at least) some disease or parasite which kills them. Stating that the 'population eventually stabilizes' seems like it's not exactly clear to you what is going on.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
What it means is that the more food there is, the more babies the worms will have. If food is scarce, the less babies they have. Their breeding is relative to their environment. I don't know what the "predator" thing means that you mentioned. They don't breed according to predators, they breed according to available resources.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Yes of course, this is also the justification people use to continue exploiting all sorts of sentient creatures. You're just strawmanning people's positions with this comment though.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
I'm not using it as a justification. I'm merely saying that it's disappointing for someone to label something unethical if they don't know much about it. If you have the facts and you still think it's unethical, so be it. But at least arm yourself with something to back up your opinion if you're going to tell people they're being unethical.<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><br>
My questions were more rhetorical than actually required an answer. Since it's pretty clear what happens to populations of any creature when they're confined, but given a steady stream of food. However like I stated, that is just a side discussion about it not exactly being a 'swell place.'</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
Since we're discussing whether worm bins are ethical or not, I just assumed that any questions asked would not be rhetorical and that people might want the information. So I answered the questions. As for it being "pretty clear what happens to populations of any creature when they're confined, but given a steady stream of food".. it's not pretty clear to me, I guess. What exactly do you think happens when worms are confined and given a steady stream of food? Because what I see happening is them eating it. And then pooping it out into fertilizer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,983 Posts
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Sevenseas</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
It depends. Animal rights ethics emphasize the moral status of the individual. Environmental ethics sometimes only focus on the totality.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
We're talking in the context of people who don't eat animal flesh, for whichever reason, being as we're talking about it on the VeggieBoards. It sounds like you're confusing environmental <i>ethics</i> with environmental <i>policy</i>.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,981 Posts
My wife had a wormery years ago. I was against it from an ethical standpoint but was outvoted. So the worms moved in. But then a funny thing happened:<br><br><br><br>
my attitude towards wormeries changed as a result of the experience. The worms were really more like pets. At the time we had a pet cat and comparing how we treated the cat with the worms is what clinched it for me. We fed the worms, we fed the cat. The worms gave us compost in exchange and the cat gave us affection in exchange. We kept the worms warm and dry during the winter just as we did the cat. The wormery we used had a way of harvesting compost with no worms being killed or harmed. I never saw any dead worms. As explained above, the worms regulate their birthrate via the food they consume: if there's lots to eat they produce babies, if not, then they don't.<br><br><br><br>
While I most likely will never have a wormery again, I have certainly changed my mind about the ethics of wormeries. If you have a dog or cat or any other pet, a wormery is really just a different kind of companion animal.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,032 Posts
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>lovely_rita</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
What it means is that the more food there is, the more babies the worms will have. If food is scarce, the less babies they have. Their breeding is relative to their environment. I don't know what the "predator" thing means that you mentioned. They don't breed according to predators, they breed according to available resources.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
So you're starving them or keeping food supplies low to keep them from reproducing?<br><br><br><br>
I think this notion of breeding according to available resources is a bit naive and simplistic. "Oh, apparently we've reached the peak population for our bin worms, let's stop breeding!"<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>lovely_rita</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I'm not using it as a justification. I'm merely saying that it's disappointing for someone to label something unethical if they don't know much about it. If you have the facts and you still think it's unethical, so be it. But at least arm yourself with something to back up your opinion if you're going to tell people they're being unethical.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
I'm not sure what this means. I can believe killing is unethical without resorting to detailing the manner of each specific possible type of killing. I can think all sorts of things are unethical based on general guidelines (like confining another creature and use for personal reasons). I don't subscribe to the cost-benefit analysis idea, in that certain benefits somehow justify something which is normally unethical. Confining another creature to use for personal reasons is unethical to me. Vermiculture to me is unethical based on that notion.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>lovely_rita</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Since we're discussing whether worm bins are ethical or not, I just assumed that any questions asked would not be rhetorical and that people might want the information. So I answered the questions. As for it being "pretty clear what happens to populations of any creature when they're confined, but given a steady stream of food".. it's not pretty clear to me, I guess. What exactly do you think happens when worms are confined and given a steady stream of food? Because what I see happening is them eating it. And then pooping it out into fertilizer.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
That was in terms of population growth. How exactly do you imagine that worms control their populations? Do they have birth control? Do they sense the finite space, the amount of surrounding worms, the steady input source of food? Perhaps there is some mechanism inside their bodies responding to their waste, food supply, and quantity of other worms (or perhaps they're conscious of this?) thereby regulating their breeding?<br><br><br><br>
----<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>MrFalafel</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I never saw any dead worms. As explained above, the worms regulate their birthrate via the food they consume: if there's lots to eat they produce babies, if not, then they don't.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
How long did you have this wormery? You never saw a dead worm that entire time? How long does it take for a worm body to break down in a wormery? What is the typical lifespan of a worm regularly and then what is it in a wormery? What is the birthrate as well as the mortality rate? What do worms die of in a wormery?<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>
-----<br><br><br><br>
Of course, like I stated in my original post in this thread, this is more just challenging the notion of a swell place it must be for the worms. I think humans tend to idealized captivity. I hear it a lot with response to bee keeping, horses, farm animals (those which are then killed and consumed or the ones which are kept for milk or eggs or wool), zoos, etc.<br><br><br><br>
"They just sit around eating as much as they want." I guess with worms the important part to remember too is that they also "poop."<br><br><br><br>
Sure sounds like an idyllic life. I hope someone will put me in a box and give me a steady stream of food so I can just sit around and poop all day.
 
21 - 40 of 74 Posts
Top