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A kitchen island featuring an odor-free vermicomposter and a grey water tank.

Photo of Adeline Cohen
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Why the EcoIsland

Food was never meant to be a waste. In ecological systems, waste of one specie is food for another. The Ecoisland illustrates this principle at the center of each home, so we can be humbled everyday by the natural process of scraps becoming a rich plant nutrient.

Social science demonstrates that human tend to be more concerned by issues that are close to home. When we toss our food waste, it is out of our sight and out of our mind. Our team believes that entering the process of vermicomposting, if it is made easy and odor-less, can be a vector for a stronger connection to ecological principles, and more conscious food purchases.

Product description

We are aiming to build a kitchen island that is affordable and that can adapt to various size of kitchens. The vermicomposter will be hidden inside the piece of furniture and will feature an opening from the countertop to dispose of food waste such as fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells and coffee grind, soiled paper and garden leaves. Once the food waste is in the bin, worms start eating through it. The food waste will go through several stages of composting, inside the vermicomposter, to be collected as worm casting through the bottom of the composter. The final compost can be used for indoor and outdoor gardens to enrich the soil. 

The kitchen island will also feature a grey water container. Nothing too fancy, just a container that can be filled with water collected from washing fruits and vegetables and a faucet at the bottom to fill a watering can for your garden. 

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We need to find a way to design an enclosed vermicomposter that can contain food waste odor. To do so, we decided to “hack” an existing piece of furniture, found at a reasonable price. We will spend the next few weeks experimenting with worms. One of us is familiar with backyard composting but we have never done vermicomposting. We hear it is odor-less when well-done, and that worm tend to live their environment if they are not happy, so we need to create a cosy environment for them to stay in.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Vermi-composting advice would be great, as well as feedback on our early design. We also would like to better understand if there is enough demand for such a product on the market. We hear a lot of people turned off by the idea of having worms in their home, but could there be enough demand to crowdsource the production of this object at the right price point? What business model should this idea follow? Would YOU use this kitchen island?

Tell us about your work experience:

We are a team of two friends living in Toronto, Canada. Adeline is an agricultural engineer and a member of a design an innovation shop within a Toronto research hospital. She has experience with feasibility study and user-centered research. Felix is an architect by day and likes to work on creative projects in his free time. He builds furniture too.

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm

How far along is your idea?

  • It’s just been created! It’s existed for 1 day - 1 month


Join the conversation:

Photo of Eli Park

Hello, Adeline Cohen I WOULD use that kitchen island. I have looked into creating a worm composting system on my own as well. I have found that one thing a lot of people get eeek!-ed about it was having bugs living in their home. My idea was to create a fully enclosed (with breathable areas)compartments that ensures the worms won't run off. However, I'm not sure how much of odor this might create within my 1 bedroom apartment.

Photo of Adeline Cohen

Awesome Eli, how far are you in your idea? We should absolutely keep each other posted! Do you have feedback on my pictures? I'm not sure how to attach the mesh onto the plastic box. How would you do it? 

Photo of Eli Park

Adeline Cohen I was thinking of using a glue gun for prototyping. The sketch is awesome! I guess after a brainstorm or two, next sketch would be the details of the each compartment. 

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