Earth Day 2014 Celebrates 44 Years!

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One of my favorite un-holidays of the year. Besides St. Patrick’s Day, this is the best green-wearing day. Recognizing all the many ways to celebrate the Earth.

A few notable websites and initiatives that have encouraged me to become even more eco-friendly are:

Earth Day Network – a worldwide initiative in 192 countries taking action to protect our planet. Schools, organizations, and individuals pledge their green acts of kindness. Buy Earth Day T-shirts, evaluate your Ecological footprint, and so much more.

I took the Ecological footprint quiz – my results based on questions such as my grocery buying habits (buy produce vs. packaged goods, local vs. regional), living accommodations, travel/commuting, recycling, etc. My footprint is: According to my lifestyle, if everyone lived like me, we’d need 3.6 Earths to provide enough resources (ouch!) To support my lifestyle, it takes 15.9 global acres of the Earth’s productive area (16.1 tons of carbon dioxide) – btw – I do not a consume meat or dairy frequently either. What can I do to reduce my footprint? Travel by airplane less, take a local vacation (I usually do), reduce amount of animal products by ½ that I eat, and most importantly, purchase products that use less packaging or were made out of 100% post-consumer recycled content. – Take the quiz, what’s your footprint say about your lifestyle?

Earth Hour – A call for action against climate change held annually on or around March 27. Participants turn off their lights for 1 hour. I’ve seen many businesses do this as well. Put it on your calendar for next year and spread the word.

Earth911 – An invaluable resource for finding what is recyclable and where to recycle your items as well as articles on reusing items and news.

Green Living Tips – A blog resource for many green and eco friendly news, how to’s, simple living, impact of sustainable living and more. This was one of the blogs that encouraged me to get this site live on the web-o-sphere! (Thank you!)

Shipping Container Homes – I don’t remember where or when I first saw my first one, but this is my passion now – to self-finance and build a shipping container home. One of the most eco friendly and affordable homes to build. You’ll be seeing more of these in the next few years in the U. S., I’m sure! I have a huge Pinterest board filled with shipping container images, exterior and interior designs. Find and follow me on Pinterest.

Earth Day News Articles and Information

This year marks the 44th anniversary of celebrating Earth Day in the U.S. Read about the first Earth Day celebration and how it has become a worldwide event, activities for teachers and students, and more!

Earth Day 2014: How It Became a Global Environmental Event – National Geographic

What is Earth Day 2014? – The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Earth Day Activities – Scholastic

Earth Day Freebies – WRAL

How are you contributing to reduce your global footprint? Preserve the Earth’s resources? Reduce waste or other contributions for the Earth this year? Share your activities here!

Worm Composting: Preparing the Worm Bin

How do you recycle your food waste? Or do you?

If you’ve been sending your veggie scraps, leftover spaghetti and moldy food to the garbage disposal, there’s another option – a worm bin or worm compost.

Worm bins do not smell (as long as you maintain it properly), can reduce your garbage by as much as 20 percent and the fertilizer produced is purely organic, which is great for indoor and outdoor plants.

You can buy a worm composter on Amazon, your local home improvement store or make one yourself from plastic totes. The retail version usually comes with 3 composting bins, and a bottom collection bin for excess  moisture. The bottom bin has a spigot, so you can use the fertilized water or “worm tea” to water your plants. This organic liquid is much better than those that you buy at home improvement stores because you know there isn’t any other chemicals in it, and your plants know too.

The retail version also contains a “starter kit” complete with fibrous bedding (shredded newsprint), core (shredded coconut husks), pumice stone, and detailed instructions how to initially setup your worm bin along with helpful hints to maintain it. The worms must be purchased separately. I highly suggest you purchase the worms from a reputable and local resource. I live in Ohio, so I bought mine from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm in Michigan. Worms arrive LIVE and within a day or two after you order them, DO NOT allow them to sit outside; otherwise, you might have dead worms! These are NOT earthworms, they are RED WRIGGLERS, a smaller breed that help break down your food scraps. Start small, you do not need 3000 worms if you’re just beginning a worm bin. They will MULTIPLY quickly!

Tips before you order your worms:

  • Setup your worm bin first – follow the steps below or the directions included with the worm bin. You may use the worm bin indoors (I have mine in the kitchen) such as in the basement or an attached garage or outdoors if your climate remains temperate year-round. Worms need a consistent temperature between 50 and about 75 degrees (you don’t want them to freeze or burn or become too dry).
  • Be ready to “feed” the worms upon arrival. Worms need about 1/4 pound of food per day to be effective (but less initially when introduced to a new environment).
  • Make sure you are home when the worms are due to arrive.
  • Although instructions say you can add cereal boxes and paper towel rolls to the worm bin, I discovered this is not a good practice if you have the worm bin indoors. Evidently tiny worms are in the cardboard, and you’ll produce gnats if you add the cardboard to the bin (yuck!).

Preparing the first worm bin for the red wrigglers:

1. Layer 1: Soak layers of newspaper (printed is fine, better to use the black and white print rather than the color inserts for the first bin. Squeeze out excess water and lay this in the bottom of the bin (with the holes).

2. Add a mixture of core (included with your worm bin, it’s coconut husk), pumice stone (also included with your worm bin), and either soil, leaves (from yard, but without chemicals) strips of moist newspaper or eggshells. I used paper from my shredder soaked in water for moisture, and egg shells. Worms need moisture to decompose food through their skin because they have no mouths. Note: If you’re adding another bin, you’ll want to leave the holes accessible so they can move upward to the next layer of food and bedding. So omit the layer of newspaper at the bottom.

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The first layer, a mixture of core, pumice stone and shredded paper (moistened). Enough to cover the bottom of the bin.

3. After the bedding is a layer of food. Note: Do not add food until your worms arrive; otherwise, you’ll have bugs flying around! I used some leftover pasta with cabbage and carrots from the frig. It’s best to use food that has been refrigerated or frozen (but defrost first) to reduce infestations of insects that live on the skins of fresh veggies and fruit. Keep the food in a thin layer and put in a different section of the bin.

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Add a layer of food on top of the bedding.

4. Add another layer of moist newsprint, enough to completely cover the inside of the bin. It’s okay for the layers to overlap. Worms do not like light, so they will burrow under the top layer of newspaper. Worms also use the newspaper as food if other food has been decomposed. Hence, worms can survive in this environment for weeks without your food scraps.

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Layer soaked newspaper on top of food scraps.
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Completely cover the inside of the worm bin with moist newspaper.

Put the lid over the newspaper layer. Now you’re ready to order your worms.

5. Add worms: When your worms arrive, read the instructions for adding them to their new environment. You’ll want to “peel back” the soaked top layer of the newsprint and add the worms here. Cover the worms with the newsprint again and allow them to adapt to their new environment for a couple days undisturbed.

What questions do you have about composting with worms? Ask them below!