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October 22, 2004

On worm bins and environmentalism...

It occurred to me last night while talking with honeyfields that I hadn't really posted on my recent pursuits to move my lifestyle a little further down the environmentally-friendly axis.

Joy and I both kind of generally want to make our lives more efficient. So, we've push ideas back and forth at each other for ways to make improvements that will stick. For instance, there's the whole eGO life-style change, with its various trials and tribulations. We both had small gardens (mostly in pots, though, since we both live in apartments this year), and we've begun using canvas bags to carry our groceries when we go shopping. It should be noted that all of these approaches have tangible benefits (eGOs can take paths that cars can't, often improving navigation/arrival times; home grown veggies just rock in general, especially fresh spices; canvas bags are much easier to carry, and most stores give you a few pennies back each time you use them, so they're also, eventually, free). But, in truth, most of these methods have a long pay-off, or a noticeable impact on one's lifestyle. It's not for everyone, though I'm happy to bring along converts where I can - there's a much less tangible emotional effect to knowing you're doing the “right thing” more of the time.

Enter the most recent pursuit: composting. As previously mentioned, I live in an apartment. Most people would assume that composting in an apartment would be a big hassle, and I had, too. Joy wasn't so phased, though, and uncovered a whole discipline of composting that's very do-able in an apartment... even indoors, if you want. It's called vermicomposting, or, in plain english, composting using worms.

Basically, you use one of two species of redworms, an earthworm, but not the same kind you find in your yard, to munch on all of your leftover organic kitchen waste. You can set up a habitat that will encourage a large population of them to thrive in a relatively small bin. The system needs to be kept in balance, but, once going, they're quite efficient at eating leftovers. Unlike normal composting, the worm bin can be pretty small and self contained - you don't need much room to turn it, nor do you have to worry particularly much about infestations, smells, etc., if you stick to the general recommended operating instructions. What you get is worm droppings, kind of like really-enriched soil, which can be used to liven up your garden, or mixed in with soil in potted plants, or whatever else you might need an enriched soil/fertilizer product for. They're really efficient at it, too... a worm population will consume about half its weight in waste in a day. You start a bin with 1 pound of worms, and their population can double a couple of times even in a small system - so, once you've got things going, you can feed them quite a bit of your waste, rather than throwing it away.

Joy and I both started bins a little over a month ago, and seem to have, so far, managed to keep our worms alive and eating. We both got the San Mateo county subsidized worm bins, which make it really easy to keep the system moving once you get it going, and have already seen a bunch of kitchen waste we'd've otherwise thrown away disappear. In the meantime, we've been happily watering our plans with the “liquid fertilizer” runoff of the worm bins. Neat stuff.

Anyway, I'll leave further comments on the worm bin to a future post, but I have a few worm links on my del.icio.us feed, as well as more general ecofriendly links, in case anyone feels like reading up more on their own.

October 07, 2004


Well, I am kind of looking forward to the Trey Parker/Matt Stone movie, Team America: World Police, coming out soon, now with merely an R rating, but, sheesh, their quiz is harsh:

October 01, 2004

An ironic sign....

An ironic sign....
An ironic sign....,
originally uploaded by bpendleton.

This sign is just down the road from where I was hit by a car while riding my eGO (motorized scooter, classified as a “motorized bicycle” in California).

Aren't you glad to know that the community is “bicycle friendly”. Perhaps the guy who hit me isn't from the area....