Thursday, January 27, 2011

please be kind, rewind

-a deeper look at what some in the industry are deceivingly calling "clean" energy - Natural Gas extraction, by way of "fracking"

-great movie on the bottled water industry

The Economics of Happiness
-this is showing in Vancouver on March 3, 2010 - the trailer wood me so I'll be there for the viewing!

-don't let water become comodified!

A Crude Awakening
-oil dependence  - the inside scoop

Clean Bin Project (just in case you haven't been following!)
-love at first sight

-more to come! :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


So...on my lunch break I was looking at the Ethical Deal of the day and as I was looking around at the website (of what the deal was for - Every Little Bit) I got an idea - one type of produce bags for sale looked exactly like the kind that your oranges would come in at the grocery store. And then, BAM!

When I got home I assessed the bag  surrounding my oranges, sitting in my fruit bowl, and sure enough - it was perfect! That bag now lays with my other cloth bags and will be used next time I hit the grocery store! Hoorah! ! Reusing and reducing is MUCH more fun than buying!

*I don't want to take away from the store, btw - it sells great items for reducing waste- I just like the idea (and I'm sure they would agree) that if you have it already in your house, might as well use it! I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner, though! I remember a while back thinking "I wonder if this is recyclable,or if I could use it for wrapping a gift...instead of throwing it out" - I must have been REALLY tired to not have thought of about it at that point!

Multipurpose at its BEST!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Worms, they make the world go round.

Well, I'm happy to report that I just found the BEST location for leaves! For what, you ask? My worms! Worms need a bedding of leaves and/or newspaper to work their magic. (Actually, it's not magic at all, it's straight up science, but it's pretty spectacular, and thus, magic to me)

I realize I haven't mentioned my worms at all even though they are a huge aspect in my life that enables me  to generate a lot less waste. WORMS! I love them, they are my friends and they can be yours, too!

I got the worm compost a while ago (I think before I even saw the movie - if you've been following along you know which one I'm referring to)  - about October. Subsisized by the wonderful City of Vancouver, I received: my new best friends, everything I'd need to start a worm compost, or vermicompost as some say, (minus one cup of soil - but that was easy enough to find in an alley near my area ), a book on composting, and a one hour session on the basics - all for only $25. Thanks City Farmer! For those who want to do reduce their waste this is, I would say, one of the best forms. Check out the website and book a time to go in and get your own compost! It's fun, it's neat, and it produces amazing soil.

The back story: In Calgary my parents and I composted everything (parents still do!) so when I moved here I just expected that I'd continue that lifestyle. However, I soon realized that living in a high rise meant less access to space/ground/soil and consequently my ability to compost took a turn for the worst. I was devastated, ...what would I do with all my peels!?! If you live in a home, the City of Vancouver will actually pick up from your house, but alas, I  did not live in such a thing, I could not do such a thing. :( (Side note - Port Coquitlam, I believe, has banned compost from their garbage! It's a pretty amazing place, I hope Vancouver follows suite) OK back to the story - you can, then, see why I was ecstatic when I met a Green Team representative at work who knew all about this City Farmer program. Thanks Niki!  I called right away and managed to get in on the last session for the year ( unfortunately they stop during the winter months) - but they will be back at it again soon so just check the website!! Or else, find another place where you can get a bin! It's pretty do-it-yourself, too all you need is:

- big box - i.e one of those blue recycle bins w/ TWO lids (one for the top and one for the bottom to catch the "compost tea" mmm (fantastic natural fertilizer - so potent with nutrients that you actually need to dilute it before using it in plants!!)
-red worms (can buy online - mine came from Abbotsford)
-leaves and newspaper (two things to note: the leaves - don't take leaves from black walnut trees as they have growth inhibitor in them and they will put a damper on composting, and, you want to make sure the ink is soy based!! I believe the Vancouver Sun is)
-soil with sand in it (to get the ball rolling - the worms actually use sand to grind the food in their gizzards - pretty cool stuff! BUT - make sure you don't take sand from the ocean, it's entirely too salty and it will mess the pH balance of your compost)
-water (as needed - the moisture level in the bin should be that of a damp cloth)

I think that's it.That website link above is fantastic and they go through everything I did, but in greater detail, with photos too!

Right now I'm up to 2litres of food waste per week. To me, these worms are amazing. Truly, truly amazing. There is nothing like putting in a big container of scraps and seeing it transform, in one week, into a soil-like, black mixture, je ne sais quoi. It makes me feel connected to earth, and I feel that's absolutely necessary in today's fast paced, processed world.

I know people are wondering - doesn't it stink??? I know because I've been asked a lot. The answer is... NO! It smells amazing, actually. I have mine inside in my place because I didn't want my lil guys to freeze outside (plus they process the food slower when in cold climates). It's barely noticeable in the corner, and it does not smell, at all. When I open the lid, all I smell is the sweet sweet scents of soil! Mother nature, at her best. I really do love the smell. The leaves/newspaper bedding keep any sort of smell contained. It's great!

Here's a break-down:

significantly less garbage!!
garbage does not stink! (no food to sit in there and go bad)
increased connected to nature
witness science and the circle of life in its most raw form
socially sustainable and responsible
you get to show off your worms when people come over 


Maybe I'm biased but I really can't think of ANY cons.... OK, OK - let me think....really hard.....Perhaps having to do something with the soil after your compost is full (I believe you usually harvest every six months) - but anyone would be willing to take the soil because it's so nutrient rich - one of the highest grades of soil there is. If this were bond ratings I'd give it the ol Standard & Poor's AAA, baby! I guess if you're grossed out about worms that may be a con but really, there's nothing to be afraid of or grossed out about - they are your friend!

For anyone reading this - if you have questions, I'd be happy to answer them! Oh and there's a compost hotline, too...when you sign up with City Farmer, you can call all you want! I've called it a few times in the beginning when I was worried my worms were not happy. (They sit on the top of the lid when they are unhappy with their environment) They're happy as can be, now...I give them lots of egg shells - they love those (the calcium in them helps them reproduce), avocado, carrot peels, orange peels (a great mixture of acidic fruits and keep the pH at it's prime)!

Here are some pics:
The Infamous Worms - amazing how such teeny tiny creatures can do such glorious things.

Compost - neatly hidden in the corner!

Bedding complete (it looks a bit different now with more leaves, less hay)

This is about three or so months after - more leaves, and there's a darker colour to it - that's how you know it's working ;)

If I knew how to take pics from my phone to the computer, I'd definitely upload the aforementioned 'perfect leaf place', discovered mere moments ago, outside in the streets of Van - after all that was the point of this post - but ah well, maybe next time! :)