Ethical Choices, Life in Paris

Dreams Come True!

I’ve put in a request for a lombricomposteur!

When I moved to France, an immediate difference between my life in Paris and my life in the US was the lack of composting. I was fortunate enough to live in cities that had great composting programs. Even my university welcomed us to our dorm rooms with small, bright green compost bins in each room!

The welcome in Paris was different. Composter is a verb that people use to refer to the act of stamping one’s train ticket before boarding, not exactly something that screams “return my food waste to the dirt!”

And yet, here we are. I had researched my new neighbourhood’s composting scheme back in 2015, and had discovered next to nothing. A few apartment buildings had set up a composting scheme for their complex, but some legwork quickly revealed two things.

First, the apartment complexes were definitely private, and second, people are a little wary of an American wandering around asking about a compost box.

A few years later, with better French, and I’m at it again!

This time, I went looking for a smaller solution. Could I set up a composting system for my building and our neighbours that share a common courtyard? I could… but I’d first have to convince my landlord to agree, and then I’d have to propose a solution for the rats when they, inevitably, arrived. Those hurdles, on top of explaining to all of my neighbours about what could and couldn’t go into the bin?


I love composting and I think that everyone should do it, but I am not the right vessel for this message. At least, not yet. So I looked for an even smaller alternative, and there it was: the lombricomposteur.

Or, as I plan to call it, a worm box.

My county offers free (!) self-contained compost systems to residents who fill out the correct forms (surprise surprise) and present themselves at the greenhouses one town over to pick up a couple hundred roommates.

There are plenty of ways you can build one yourself, and enough YouTube videos to walk you through the process, but I’m happy to wait for mine to be built by someone who knows what they’re doing.

The system uses red worms, and creates a nice little bit of compost and “tea,” as they call it, that can be diluted and used as a fertiliser.

E is supportive of our prospective houseguests, although he’s a little apprehensive about where, exactly, we’ll put them. While we have about 382 square feet at our disposal, only a small fraction of our space is tiled.

While I should be sorting out logistics, I am dreaming about all of the things I can fertilise! E’s mother started a beautiful garden last year when she moved, and the tiny tiny little shared flower bed in front of my windows could use some love. I’m hoping to use the “tea” to keep my succulent and English ivy happy. After my jasmine plant bit the dust, I’m wondering if it would have stuck around a little longer if I’d given it more (read: any) fertiliser.

Soon, I won’t have to wonder, and I’ll update you on how the worm box and my own fertiliser-focused cottage industry are going just as soon as everything gets started.



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