Wednesday, April 11, 2007

McGuyver has struck again

I married a DIY kind of guy. This is good; I tend to be very hand's-on too. So most of our fights are about how to improve things. It's a kind of geeky pissing match, but in a good way.

Out in the Hinterlands, there is no curb-side recycling. (There are also no curbs. Are the two related?) We've become a lot more conscious of our trash, but more importantly, we try not to buy things to throw away to begin with. There are bottle and can returns at most grocery stores, as Michigan is one of those fee states (MI 10c!). But on occasion, stuff happens. Ergo, I have become a glass and plastics recycler, finding new-ish uses for old containers, mostly in relation to the garden.

But paper? BRING IT ON. We LOVE paper. Not really, but like most households, ours seems to accumulate lots of it. And cardboard, especially with internet shopping (another thing about the Hinterlands is getting to know the FedEx and UPS drivers by name) and with things like cereal and pasta boxes. All this cellulose bounty is destined for the garden. The big cardboard boxes get flattened and go down as a weed barrier on the paths between the raised beds in the spring; I pile wood chips, grass clippings, straw, etc. (whatever I have a lot of) on top of them as the season goes on. And the small boxes and ALL that paper go in here.


Yep. McGuyver, a.k.a. the husband, has recycled two things at once here yesterday. One is the wee paper shredder, the other is an unused (extra) garbage can. The shreddings then go to either the compost, directly into new garden beds, or in with the wrigglers.

11 comments:

circumspice said...

Brilliant! The Mr. has been wanting a paper shredder for ages, for some unfathomable reason. Maybe I'll tell him I'll buy him a paper shredder if he buys me a big box full of worms!

Thanks for the vermicomposting tips, by the way - I may have to give it a try.

Crunchy Chicken said...

That's impressive. I think I would need legions of worms to consume all the paper products that get generated by our relatively conservative (we don't print anything) household.

Nice work!

Nada said...

Ah...the DIY improvement argument....that's the argument of choice at our place.

Even though we have a recycling service, we recently started recycling all our paper via the compost - to increase the heat in the pile - and the worm bins. The worms consume paper and wet cardboard very quickly. I think the only thing that trumps paper is pasta and rice!

Alas, we have no paper shredder..we just harness pent up DIY frustrations to rip it up with our bare hands.

El said...

I've gotten a few questions about the worms.

We keep them in a 14-gal. plastic tub that's had a few holes drilled into its sides and top. The tub is kept in the basement. We add about 3" of dampened shredded paper/cardboard to the top of their bin every month or so. We feed them, as Nada said, mainly pasta and rice; they love carbohydrates. We feed them when we remember to: about every two-three weeks.

I use the castings (the mud they create from the shreddings) in my seeding mix at a ratio of 1:10 or so (1 being the castings as they're potent). I also use it to feed the indoor and potted plants. It takes about 6 months to have enough castings to use.

They do NOT stink. They are not gross. Amd my kid loves her "wormy-worms."

Liz said...

Pasta and rice? Like you make extra for the worms or it's leftover from dinner?

And how cold does your cellar get? Ours hovers in the 30s in winter....can the wormies handle it??

El said...

Gone-bad leftovers that the chickens don't get. I'm not running a restaurant for invertebrates here; I'm just a recycler.

It gets into the 40s down there in the basement. I keep it off the floor (less conduction) but believe me, those worms can create some heat of their own. It gets positively steamy in their little shop.

meresy_g said...

Hmmm....I use newspaper in the garden to block weeds, but never considered cardboard. Is it gone the next year? We have lots of cardboard. And vermicomposting is on the to-do list this year. We have a paper shredder to shred all mail etc. and I use it sometimes in the chicken house, but never thought to add it to the compost pile. duh.

El said...

Hey Meredith, yeah, the cardboard is mostly done by the next year, except for the tape, which I end up picking up. That cardboard is worm food for the outside worms, I figure. That's why it all starts over every year. But I don't have weedy paths...

There are some issues with colored inks used in glossy magazines, etc. These can sometimes contain heavy metals. (Papermaking in general is a nasty business.) So YES I do put it in the compost heap, but I try to keep it to newspaper and office paper, cardboard, etc. I "recycle" my catalogs and magazines by giving them to a local nursing home and a local used bookstore. Sometimes the glossy stuff gets shredded; it's not much. I try to think that the greater good I am doing with all the compost I add back to the gardens...it beats the landfills, and making it someone ELSE's problem.

And thanks for mentioning the chickens. The shreddings end up in the coop, too.

Jane said...

El - I have nominated you as a thinking blog - it is one of these chain lettery things I suppose but I have chosen to follow it up as it gave me a chance to list the blogs that make me think a bit. You are now meant to nominate your own five and so on (but don't worry if you don't want to).
This shredder looks very neat.
J
x

Robbyn said...

Oh wow, look at the worms! I'm so jealous! (yeah, I realize that sounds weird, ha) We're doing the cardboard thing and newspaper, too, but havent even thought of a shredder...what a great idea!

(McGyver fan here, too...oh what he could do with a piece of gum and a paper clip...)

e4 said...

Where does all that paper come from anyway? I've been trying to do essentially the same thing (shredding incoming paper for worms & compost pile), and I've become increasingly amazed at how much paper there is around here!