Vermicompost aka Worm Compost aka Worm Poop

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Worm Factory 360

Yep, worm poop! Some call this stuff black gold because it’s so good for the garden. It helped my garden tremendously last year, and I swear by the stuff! Composting is basically just decomposing organic matter that can eventually act as a fertilizer, or as a way to avoid landfill garbage. If you do some research online it sounds really complicated, but I’m here to tell you it’s really not.

I have an indoor and outdoor compost bin. For outdoors I like to use the barrel tumbler method. This is great if you don’t own your property (or if you do). Eventually I will set up a pallet framed compost pile once we purchase land. My parents have had huge piles in their backyard since I was born and it works amazing with little to no effort. Because Utah gets so cold in the winter I choose to do worm composting indoors year around. The worms actually turn the organic matter into compost faster than the tumbler method anyway and it doesn’t smell – if you do it right. This wouldn’t be necessary in warmer climates, although I still prefer it because it’s faster.

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Top Tier – Covered in Newspaper

First thing’s first, get a bin. I started out with a big durable plastic bin that you would use for storage. I had my dad drill some large holes in the top of the lid, then I glued some mesh screen over the holes so the worms couldn’t get out. I tried to keep this bin inside, but the smell was terrible. Not to say I wasn’t doing something wrong at the time, because I was (see newspaper part). —  I ended up keeping them outside, which was fine because it was in the Spring. Then we went on vacation in the Summer I called and asked our neighbor to move the bin under our cherry tree for some shade. I didn’t realize how hot it would get when we were gone. Well, I didn’t think far enough ahead because the sprinklers came on… and that was the end of that worm bin. RIP little guys, please forgive me. It did work pretty good though, and the bin was only $4.

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Mature Tier – Worms Hard at Work

My next and current bin is the Worm Factory 360 I bought from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. This bin was a small investment (around $100-ish). This bin can hold around 20,000 worms! That’s what I’m talking about! It’s a 4 tier (I’m only using 3 in the pic) contraption that is made for indoors and is supposed to not smell. I have been pleasantly surprised with mine so far. I’ve had it for maybe 8 months or so, and I haven’t had any problems, smells, or escapees.

Whatever way you choose to vermicompost, this is what I suggest for getting started:

You need a starter bedding. This really could be dirt, but I absolutely swear by compacted coconut fiber. This can be purchased at pet stores in the pet bedding department (my bin came with some). Just a warning, it usually has a thin plastic wrap around it. I let that slide because buying that will ultimately save a ridiculous amount of food from rotting at the landfill. After I rehydrate the bedding I add shredded paper, cardboard, and tissue.

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Adding to Mature Tier

The bin I got came with crushed pumis stone and that seemed to work well. I don’t plan on investing in more of that though, because it’s not essential. I recommend saving those annoying ads that won’t stop coming in the mail no matter what you do. Recycle the shiny ones, and save all of the dull ones.

Starting Your Bin (or a new tier)! – First, rehydrate your bedding, add paper bits and stuff, dig a little hole in the corner of the bin and add some food, cover with bedding, add worms. Cover the whole thing with sheets of newspaper. That’s it.

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Making a New Tier – Coconut Fiber, Paper Products, Food

There are types of food that are better than others. Pretty much all veggie scraps are great, all fruit (limit citrus), any starches (pasta, rice, bread, crackers, etc.), fibers such as egg cartons, nut shells, tissue, toilet paper, junk mail, and then other stuff like tea bags (no plastic or staples), coffee grounds, dead flowers and plants, leaves, etc. Worms do not like oil, meat, dairy, or animal products (besides crushed egg shells). This is debatable but I would advise against it.

So you’ve got your worm bin started. Every few days add a couple cups (for about 1,000 worms) of chopped up food and products listed above. I know the ratios matter, but this is where I like to keep things simple, keep it moist, not too moist, add dry stuff, don’t let it get too dry, add a variety of food, the smaller the better. If it starts to smell it’s probably because it’s too wet or you added too much food. If you make your own bin and worms are escaping, make sure you have thick layers of newspaper over the top, shine a light on the top (they move away from light), and make sure there aren’t too big of holes for them to escape.

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Worm Food! – Toilet Paper Rolls, Used Napkins, Coffee Grounds, Tea Bags/Papers, Paper Bags, Old Veggie Scraps. 50/50 ratio of Fiber/Food is great!

If you have a specific problem or question, please ask! There is usually a simple way to remedy any problem with a vermicompost bin. They usually just get a little out of balance and can be brought right back. If you buy worms or a bin, then read the instructions.

I get all of my worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. They are great!

Outdoor tumbler type composting is very similar in terms of balance. I’ll get to that in another post, once it warms up!

Check the photo captions to see what I’m doing in the pics!

xoxo Kaycee

iTOVi and Essential Oils

itovi-2I wanted to share my new favorite gadget with you guys! This has been an amazing tool for my personal health, for the heath and wellness of my family, and also for my growing essential oil business. Whether you use oils or sell oils, this is a great product to have in your home!

I originally wanted an iTOVi because of what it does overall; scans for the things your body needs, but I think it’s a great tool for purchasing oils too. It’s hard to know what oils to buy and where to put your money when you don’t really know what you need. This takes all of the guess work out of it and makes it really easy when deciding what to purchase.

The iTOVi is your personal product expert! It is basically a pocket-sized tool that helps you understand what products your body needs. It uses bioimpedance, temperature, pressure sensors, and bluetooth to create a personalized wellness plan just for you!

itovi-1How It Works

Everything has energy that vibrates at certain frequencies, humans and non-living things alike. iTOVi records and measures unique frequencies and then relates them to biopoints that correspond with the company you select upon purchase. I use doTERRA, but there are several companies to choose from, including vitamins, minerals, and essential oil companies. The iTOVi sends frequencies to the body and is then given a measurable response. Each essential oil or supplement has it’s own frequency.

itovi-3As I mentioned before, every living and non-living thing alike has it’s own unique vibrational frequency. Lucky for us we can measure these frequencies! The iTOVi takes these measurements and records each frequency as it relates to the the biopoints of the oil, vitamin, or mineral company you choose. Our bodies will naturally react to foreign frequencies and the scanner will record them. These foreign frequencies are unresolved biopoints. Biopoints are organs, vertebrae, and other biological systems. When a biopoint is unresolved, the device will recommend a product that can help resolve it. In my case,  doTERRA essential oils.

The iTOVi is highly accurate. It uses an algorithm to gather and organize the data. It is then translated into a simple and beautiful diagram that we can easily see and understand.  The iTOVi can be set up to report 3, 5, 7, or 10 recommendations. I prefer the 3 or 5 method so I can focus on the most important unresolved biopoints, but I think more can be useful sometimes too. The first and largest number indicates the total number of biopoints out of 270+ that the recommended product will remedy. I like to focus on this oil the most, and then work on the others after.

When your results show up on the app you can then click on each product to learn more about it and how to use it. It’s super simple to use, and really removes all the guess work!

If you have any questions for me about the iTOVi scanner, please ask! I absolutely love mine and have found it so useful! I’d love to pass on any information I can!

You can check out the iTOVi site for yourself and purchase here!

If you are local (Utah – Utah County or Salt Lake County) and would like an assessment before stocking up on your doTERRA oils, please contact me and we can set up an appointment!

If you want to purchase doTERRA oils, click here!

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Disclaimer: The iTOVi scanner system is not designed to diagnose or treat any disease or condition. The report simply shows recommendations based on your body’s reaction to the frequencies.”

 

Zero Waste Grocery Shopping

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One of my favorite switches I made when going Zero Waste was using cotton/mesh bags instead of plastic bags. The first time I did this I was a little nervous, I had never seen anyone else do it before and I didn’t know what to expect. But to my surprise the cashiers at my regular grocery store loved it! I made my own bags (you can get some here). Everyone responded saying it was so cool that I cared enough to do that and that all of my bags were super cute! I felt really good after! It was so nice to get some encouraging feedback. When I got home and put all of my groceries away I felt different. It took me a minute to realize what this feeling was, but it was a feeling of relief. When I was done I just put my bags back in the drawer. I didn’t have to collect 15+ produce bags and another 5-10 plastic sacks to throw in the garbage or recycling. There was no mess. It felt like I just treated my food with respect for the first time. I honestly think plastic has it’s place, but around my food is not one of them. However, I still do buy a few things in plastic (remember, I’m not perfect!) but I’ll save that for another post.

So this is what a small portion of my shopping cart looked like today. If you don’t have reusable bags, can’t afford them, or just don’t want to use them – a great alternative is no bag at all. You are going to wash all of your produce when you get home anyway, so just throw it in the cart or basket. I do this when I forget my bags, and sometimes even if I have them. You can see in the pic below that I didn’t bag my onions, garlic, avocados, green onions, cabbage or watermelon. I usually only bag things like potatoes, apples, kale, spinach, and things I have multiples of. I still don’t understand why people would put bananas or a pineapple in a plastic bag, but I see it all the time. Just throw it in the cart!

zero-waste-groceries-1I try my very best when I am shopping but I occasionally do get things like twist ties and rubber bands on my produce. I simply just reuse them when I need these things. I the rubber bands that come on my green onions to go around the top of my kombucha jars to hold the cloth on. I just do my best and try to reuse the trash I do happen to gather. That’s really all you can do.

The last thing I do when I shop is bring my reusable tote bags! I keep a stash of them in my car, but when I forget I usually just have them throw it all back in the cart unbagged. This isn’t always convenient for me because I often have a 4 year old in tow, but in the case I need bags, I ask for paper. Paper bags can be reused over and over too! I reuse them as much as I can for things like grocery bags (ha ha!), donating to thrift stores, giving things away, and lately I’ve been shredding them after they are worn out to use as cushion for my online shops if needed.

Do you have any problems shopping plastic free? Are you afraid to? I know I was at first… I’d love to hear from everyone about this!

My Zero Waste Food Necessities // On The Go

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These are some of my personal favorite zero waste necessities that I take with me everywhere I go. There are a few others things I usually have stashed in my car too, but I’ll just highlight a few things here. It can definitely be easier, and even more complicated. I’ll try to highlight several options and in different price ranges. I always want to recognize the privilege I have in being able to obtain these items. I know that it is not feasible for everyone, and that is why I will always provide multiple options in every price range – or even free!

Health Human.jpgHealthy Human Water Bottle – I take a water bottle with me everywhere I go. I have tried way too many water bottles in the last few years – Hydroflask, REI, Camelback, and some other random ones. Healthy Human sent me a little gift box in the summer of last year and I have been in love ever since! Their colors are beautiful, their sizes are perfect, and they stay hot and cold forever! I’ve put ice in mine and 24 hours late it still has ice in it, they are that good! They are also much more affordable than some of the other well known double insulated brands. These stainless steel bottles are especially good for hiking and outdoor activities. I found out very quickly on climbing trips that the reusable plastic water bottles would warm up my water in about an hour if we were out in the sun. When I was staying up the canyon for a day or two that wasn’t really going to work. They are a bit heavier than a thin plastic one, but they are much more durable and will last a lot longer.

Alternatives: You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a reusable water bottle. There are plenty at thrift stores for under $1. There are plastic ones that are generally less expensive too. But if you can afford it, I think investing in a nice water bottle is great because the double insulated stainless steel ones are pretty much indestructible and keep your beverage hot or cold longer. It could potentially be the last water bottle you buy.

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Reusable Napkins: I made the napkin in the photo out of some old thick scrap cotton fabric I bought about 10 years ago. I just folded over the edges a couple time and stitched once across each edge. If you don’t have a sewing machine you could hand stitch them or just buy some new or used. These have been so great, both in and out of the house. I usually stash one of these in my purse to use for whatever. I also keep a bunch in a drawer in my kitchen too. These have 100% eliminated the need for paper napkins. If there ever is a time I end up with paper napkins that will be thrown out if they are not used, I just place them next to the napkins in my drawer. They can be put in the compost bin once they are used. I use these occasionally when I’m behind on the laundry.

Alternative: Cut up old cotton shirts or sheets. They don’t have to be perfect or beautiful!

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keepcupCoffee Cup (or tea, hot chocolate, whatever): I love my KeepCup coffee cup! But there are so many options for this. If you are staying in for coffee you can bring a mug, or even ask if the establishment has mugs. If you frequent an establishment you will know what to expect after you ask once. You can bring a jar, use a water bottle, or any cup really. I won my KeepCup in a giveaway, and don’t know that I would have invested in one myself because of the price, but I’m glad I have one now. Another option similar to the KeepCup is a Joco Cup. Also an investment, but if you are looking to go 100% plastic free then it is a great option. They use silicon bands (not quite as affective as the cork on the KeepCup) to protect hands from heat and they also use a flexible silicon lid (the KeepCup has a plastic lid). My husband and daughter both use Joco Cups and really like them. Most coffee shops will give you a discount for bringing your own lid too. Don’t forget to skip the straw. They aren’t necessary anyway! Of course you can always bring your own reusable straw too. (I’d rather go without)

Alternatives: Some cheap ways to get a coffee cup other than a cheap secondhand mug (great choice!), is to use a mason jar with either a Cuppow or EcoJarz lid. They are lids that replace the flats on jars that are secured with a ring. I have 3 Cuppow lids and love them! If you want to be plastic free though then EcoJarz is a great option. You can also just go without a lid! Jars are about $.50-$1 secondhand, or you can get a 12 pack for about $10. They are pretty cheap, and you can use them for leftovers, snacks, regular cups in the kitchen, craft storage, and more. The lids I mentioned are also great to use as sippy cups for kids! Don’t forget secondhand too! I always see coffee cups (thermos type) for under $1 at thrift shops.

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Utensils: For the longest time I was using bamboo cutlery, but I really wouldn’t recommend this. The teeth on my knife broke off in my food pretty quickly and the tines on the fork were really hard to get clean. The spoons are usually not very deep so it’s hard to eat soups and stuff like that. I personally bought a few secondhand forks and spoons and just use those. They are going to last forever and they are really cute! I like to try to buy things secondhand whenever possible, and this is a great item to buy secondhand because they last forever! They were $.25 each too, can’t beat that!

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EcoLunchBox.jpgStainless Steel Container: I use these for taking food places, taking food to go from places, toddler snacks, and buying in bulk. I love using these at the Whole Foods buffet and for picking up vegan treats at my favorite bakeries in SLC! If you are putting something in them that needs to be weighed, then don’t forget to have the store weigh them first or you’ll be paying an extra few dollars for the price of the container! This one (in the pic) is my all time favorite! It’s made by EcoLunchBox and it’s wonderful! I also have a round 2-teir Clean Planetware brand, a 2-tier rectangle EcoLunchBox (don’t love the size), and a round 3-tier Indian Tiffin brand that came with an insulated carrying bag. Most of these are pretty pricey, but there are some great alternatives (highlighted below). Again, I probably would have never invested in them myself but I got one as a gift and another I won in a giveaway. After I was able to try some out I purchased some more. I have several of each thing I’m listing in this post because there are 3 of us in my family and I also camp/hike/climb/rock hound a lot, so I require a bit more.

Alternatives: Anything you would normally put food in. Plastic Tupperware, glass Pyrex, mason jars, any container that saves food really. There are always options secondhand for next to nothing. If you are really set on getting a cheaper stainless steal one, I have seen them at World Market and The Container Store for around $10! These things don’t have to be expensive!

And that’s about it! I also carry tote bags and cotton and mesh drawstring bags, but I’ll save that for another post.

What kind of stuff do you take with you?