Thursday, April 19, 2007

We have some new pets....WORMS!

That's right folks...we went to F.W. Horch yesterday and picked up a take-out container full of little worms. We then picked up a plastic container (I had a hard time with this one, but plastic keeps the moisture from being absorbed which the little worms need to survive, and wood would just soak it all up) to keep our new pets in. Why worms? They are GREAT composters!

Let's face it, when it comes to getting our veggie and fruit scraps out to the compost bin, it doesn't happen too often. More so in the summer, but when winter comes who wants to be walking through feet of snow to get to the bin? Not to mention the fact the decomposition slows down majorly in the winter because of the cold where we are, so we basically have a smelly pile of rotting food until the weather warms up. So these worms live right in your house (downstairs in our shop) and you can feed them everyday if you like, and the guy at the store told me that if you forget to feed them for a couple of months, they'd still probably be okay. Easy!

I think this is ideal for people in apartments, or for people who don't have a yard to compost in. Let's face it, Americans have a trash problem, so composting is one way to ease up on the stuff that ends up in landfills, reduces your total garbage output (which is great when the city implements a law where you have to buy trashbags with the city's name on it and pay $1-3 a bag!), and helps out your garden or potted plants at the same time!

Now worms are not that gross, so stop saying "ew". They're teeny tiny ones, so for those who are squeamish when it comes to things like this, they're not so bad. I took pictures of the process and will explain some more about it for those who think it may be fun to start worm composting.

What you need to get started-

1) Container: A plastic bin with tight fitting lid is a good container because the moisture isn't absorbed and the worms need this moisture to survive. One pound of worms will consume about 3.5 pounds of food weekly, and this amount would require about 3.5 square feet of surface area. Or a half pound of worms, consuming 1.5 pounds of food weekly would need 1.5 square feet of surface area. The worms need air to breathe, so drill some holes (small ones) near the top. Don't make them too big because you don't want flies getting in there. The worms like darkness, so do not get a clear bin. Here is the bin we bought. The worms are in the take-out container. They are mixed with some organic wastes and there own poo which is like gold loam!

2) Bedding:Shredded newspaper is great for bedding. The bedding must be organic matter so it can decompose. Any paper should do, but make sure it isn't coated. The bedding should be kept moist, so make sure you soak the newspaper first. Ring it out before putting it in so that it's as moist as a wrung out sponge. Here is the shredding process underway (my daughter thought this part was so much fun!):

3) Worms!: There are two species that will work: Eisneia foetida, AKA, red worms, or Lumbricua rubellus. These species produce the largest amounts of organic material. Here are the worms we got:

After I got all these together, I put the worms with the bit of organic matter they came with on the bottom of the bin spread out like so:

Then I covered them up with moist newspaper strips:

Then I put some of my daughter's mashed pears that were getting old in about 4 different piles (little piles) under the newspaper. I then covered the piles back up with the newspaper.

These worms are just getting started, so they are tiny and need to reproduce to consume much more. They will be able to eat much more in about 2 months. I should be able to throw all of my veggies scraps in there daily. You just pull back the newspaper and place the food in there and cover it back up. Keep an eye on how much they're eating.

You don't want to keep your bin in temperatures lower than 40 degrees, or higher than 80. We keep our worms in the shop downstairs which is heated.

Do NOT feed your worms meat waste, bones, fats (oils).

DO feed them veggie waste, fruit waste, tea leaves, tea bags, coffee grounds complete with filter, etc.

Depending on all these conditions, you should have some compost to use in about 3-5 months! Just pull back the paper and scoop out the compost. Some people put some food over to one side of the bin the night before, so the worms are all over that way and then go in and get the compost from the other side.

So go get some worms and have fun!!

I wanted to name all of our worms, but I figured once they reproduced it would be too hard to keep up! :)

Monday, April 16, 2007

What Is Your Ecological Footprint?

Have you ever stopped to think about how just your actions effect the Earth? has put together a "footprint" quiz so you can determine just how much of an impact you have on the Earth. Here is the link to the quiz. My total footprint was a 10, but mostly because I don't drive that much. I'm sure if I was commuting daily, my footprint would have been much larger. At the end of the quiz, it told me this:




Ummm, did you catch that last one?? We would need 2.3 planets! That's pretty scary considering my footprint is much smaller than the average American's.

After you take that quiz and determine how big your footprint is, you have to decide what you can do to make it smaller. That website has a ton of great info on how to do that. Here are some ideas that they include:

Hungry for still more ways to change your life? You might:

Eat less meat: A plant-based diet generally requires less land, energy, and other resources. Crop-based food requires an average of 0.78 global hectares per ton of food, compared to 2.1 global hectares required to produce one ton of animal-based food. See our Frequently Asked Questions for more information on this topic (and others!).
Drive a fuel-efficient vehicle and reduce the amount that you drive-walk, cycle, carpool, or use public transportation instead.
Avoid purchasing disposable items with lots of packaging. Re-use items when possible, and always recycle items that are recyclable.
Compost kitchen waste: Garbage that is not contaminated with degradable (biological) waste can be more easily recycled and sorted, and doesn't produce methane gases (a significant greenhouse gas contributor) when stored in a landfill.
Plant native and drought-tolerant plants in dry regions to reduce water use.
Be a conscientious consumer—learn about sustainability-friendly products here, courtesy of The Center for a New American Dream. Also, for a teenage perspective on “buying different,” click here.
Visit the GreenMarketplace, an online green shopping center, for all sorts of environmentally friendly products.
Share magazines and catalogs by donating them to hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices or by creating an informal program in which you rotate magazines and catalogs among your neighbors.
Save trees by freeing yourself from junk mail, in three basic steps! Also courtesy of The Center for a New American Dream.
Reuse and recycle packing materials. You can recycle materials like packing “peanuts”—simply call 1-800-828-2214 for the Plastic Loose Fill Council’s “Peanut Hotline” and they’ll tell you the nearest recycling location.
Engage Friends

“It’s amazing what a small group of committed people can accomplish to change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” --Margaret Mead

How can you create your own small network of people?

Start a conversation by asking your friends about their social and ecological concerns.
Encourage your friends to visit and make their own lifestyle changes using the Take Action Calculator as a guide.
Recruit some friends to get involved with you in local and global movements for social change. To find an Earth Day event or Earth Day network group in your own area, click here. For a list of other interesting nonprofit organizations that welcome volunteers in your area, try or
Involve Society

Involving society means encouraging political leaders, schools, and businesses to use resources responsibly, to teach others how to do so, and to proactively track resource use in communities, organizations, and entire nations. As an individual, you can:

Write a letter to your local government representative.
Speak to your school district about incorporating the Ecological Footprint into their curriculum.
Inform local businesses about the Ecological Footprint, and encourage them to calculate the mark they leave on the planet. For information on a Footprint quiz tailored specifically to businesses, contact or Or see our detailed summary of Ecological Footprints for businesses and the government.
Register to vote and vote for candidates who support:
Renewable energy policies
Highly fuel efficient modes of transportation
Protecting existing ecologically productive lands
Restoring degraded natural areas
Promoting organic and local food sources
Setting standards for recycled product procurement policies and fair trade

This website has more ideas as well.

So start reducing your footprint!!

More later...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Drying Laundry

Here's another really simple thing you can do to help the environment (less energy used) and your electric bill! Start using a clothesline to dry your clothes. Simple, huh?!

Even if you don't own a house with a yard, set up an indoor clothesline, or get a clothes rack. If you own a yard, pick some trees to tie a rope around and you're good to go. No trees? Buy an outdoor clothes rack like this. You don't have to wait for summer to start hanging clothes, if the temperature is above freezing, they will dry!

We set up our clothelines for the season this past weekend and it felt so good to hang out laundry outside again! There is nothing like the smell of clothes that come in fresh from the line. The smell makes me smile!