I've grown so used to using vermiculture that I almost forget it's different.
Well no, none of my friends compost with worms that I know of. But it's a fairly low maintenance way of reducing your waste.
Worms are incredible. They break down food just like a normal compost pile would, the difference is you can easily do it in your house without a smell (or a mess). At EcoHouse we have stacking worm trays. This way we can shift the trays as the top one fills. The vertical orientation also allows water to seep to the bottom where we collect it in a jar. This worm tea is a more effective fertilizer than miracle grow, plus it's natural. When the compost is finished, you sift out the worms and add the compost to your garden.
Worms eat all the regular household scraps you might compost, but they also eat shredded paper, dryer lint, egg cartons, wood chips, etc. Those carbon heavy materials provide a nice bedding for the worms. Having a bedding is important because it provides the worms food, a nice place to live, and it keeps your bin from smelling. We use peet moss, but we also add other carbon heavy materials so that we don't use too much of the peet moss (it's expensive and a limited resource).
If you're looking to set up your own bins, you can either get stacking trays like ours (Worm Factory, available online at amazon.com or if you're in the cities, Eggplant Urban Farm Supply on Selby Ave) or make your own out of Tupperware. It's imperative that the worms have the ability to move from tray to tray, and that it's easy for you to lift out the trays so you can fork through and supply oxygen to the soil.
For more information, we recommend reading the book "Worms eat my garbage." It's been a great resource for us, plus it gets into more of the complicated worm composting management strategies.
Oct 13, 2010
In 1845, Thoreau went into the woods.
In 2010, I went into a residential neighborhood that happens to have a lot of big trees.
I won't try to pretend like living in the EcoHouse is remotely similar to Thoreau living in his cottage. Though similarly square in shape, (well the EcoHouse may be a little longer than it is wide), that about sums of the similarities in our structures. Plus, the EcoHouse has far more weather-stripping and insulation than Thoreau's cottage. I certainly hope we won't feel the wind through the walls come winter.
Thoreau has been on my mind first because of a blurb in Blessed Unrest about his social activism. More recently because of a reading I had to do for one of my Environmental History classes. In the section of Walden, Where I lived, and What I lived for, Thoreau talks about how he wished to live deliberately. As I read those words, I realized that the intention embodied everything I had been feeling about living in the EcoHouse.
When we first moved in, we spoke about all the things we wanted to do and try this year. All the things we wanted to learn to make ourselves instead of buy. There were habits we would need to learn: shorter showers, composting, tending the worms, turning off lights, buying different soaps... but we knew we could do them with a little effort.
We all got used to whole grain bread. I'm not sure if that kind of flour is any more sustainable than white flour (perhaps less processing?) but it's healthier for you so we agreed to make the switch. We buy from a co-op when we can, but we buy at Rainbow or Target if it's cheaper there-- we are still poor college students. I've started going to the Farmer's market every weekend to buy eggs and the last of the fall harvest. We take out the composting after it's been full... for 3 days. We have a separate jar for the worms so we don't over feed them. We freeze vegetable ends and scraps and when we have enough, we make vegetable stock, and then compost the remains. One less thing to buy, far tastier soup.
We're living deliberately. We're making choices to live healthier, and better. Maybe every now and then we buy into the green washing fads (after all, Caribou does guarantee that their coffee is fair trade AND rainforest safe! couldn't hurt, right?) but what started off as having to be a conscious decision has now become second nature. We're almost two months in. Now we're looking out as to how we can help other people make their homes EcoHouses too.
When I tell people I live in the EcoHouse, they usually ask what makes it Eco. As I started to get into the spiel we've been asked to relay about how it was renovated-- "Oh so cool! So everything's state of the art??"
Well no. There are a lot of "new" things in the EcoHouse (I really love pointing out our solar powered water heating). But a lot of it is old, and that's what makes it Eco. So if you already have a house, just changing your habits slightly can make your house an EcoHouse too.
That's part of what I'm working on at my internship. I'm making a guide not only on how to renovate houses to be more sustainable, but how current residents can make their house more energy efficient (and thus "greener") by making a few easy changes.
Coming up on the EcoHouse calendar is making a pumpkin pie… from an actual pumpkin. Pictures to follow soon. Also, I have pictures from my cheese making adventure that will find their way here soon.
Posted by Meg at 7:34 PM