Seattle is the first city in the nation to fine people for not properly sorting their garbage. The law took effect on Jan. 1 as a bid to keep food out of landfills and encourage composting instead.

Seattle Public Utilities estimates that every family in the city throws away some 400 pounds of food each year. And so the new law aims to incentivize recycling and composting. For now households that throw away food are warned with a bright red tag on their garbage bin — but fines will be imposed come Jul. 1. 


The Water-Purifying Storm Drain

Some trees in the municipality have come down, which means free wood chip mulch! I am glad to finally start covering up the newspaper mulch layer around the swale.

I have been picking up urban concrete waste, rocks, shells, and ceramic waste, in order to make a drainage layer in the water reservior. It’s all coming together in bits and pieces of recycled materials. As with the clay extraction project: a little bit of collection and recycling each day adds up to a lot of raw materials.

This water-collecting and filtering project has been a few months in the making: building a wood hügel, digging a swale, planting an edible tree and shrub border, planting pollinator-feeding erosion control seed mix on the berm, and planting semi-aquatic irises that filter water and hyperaccumulate pollutants like heavy metals

Once finished, this crescent-shaped drain should relieve flooded conditions on the grass plane and patio, while providing a space for the disposal of local concrete waste and broken ceramics.

In a few years, it can be mulched over and turned into a rain garden.

I based the idea on things I read while learning about landscape stormwater management, phytoremediation and phytomining: I wanted to use largely botanical, recycled, or self-harvested components to build a drain that also functions as a place to process waste, and as a habitat and source of sustenance to local wildlife. It’s modelled on a bioretention water processing/groundwater recharge cell.


A number of the drainage elements — especially shells and concrete — are also meant to catch small amounts of water, in order to provide drinking water for the beehive I am currently installing.

Seeds are germinating on the berm, so soon the whole thing will be covered in flowers, and yet again virtually unrecognisable!

The whole project has been free of cost, and made with recycled, collected, or traded materials.

Japanese Students Create Brilliant Straw Home Heated by Compost 
On Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Japanese students at Waseda University have designed and built an innovative straw house that produces its own heat through agricultural fermentation. During the cold months, dried straw is composted in acrylic cases within the house using the low-odor Japanese “bokashi” method. The fermentation naturally heats up the house by generating 30° celsius heat for up to four weeks.

The project, called “A Recipe To Live,” stands in the coastal town of Taiki-cho in Hokkaido. It was designed by students Masaki Ogasawara, Keisuke Tsukada and Erika Mikami to follow the natural cycles of the dairy farm town, which features many straw pastures.

During the hot summer months, the natural shelter dries straw inside transparent window shelves. These shelves serve as “heat shield panels,” and they release cool moisture as the straw dries. In the winter months, the straw is composted indoors to produce a source of heat through microbial fermentation. The house’s grass walls need to be changed a few times throughout the year, but they provide a natural system of heating and cooling that requires zero energy.

Photos by LIXIL

#Japan #compost #straw #bokashi #heating

Microbial Homes

In this day and age we are increasingly confronted sustainable living with the appeal. Therefore should Particularly in urban areas of the compost heap in the apartment are. Hard to imagine. But with ‘Microbial Homes’ is now proven that green living can take place in a small space and does not have to give up style.Hand in hand they can change our lifestyle.

During the Dutch Design Week (DDW) five kitchen concepts of the Dutch group were Philips and the Vision of Design and Innovation Team Director Clive van Heerden presented. All models are based on the basic idea to work as a biological machine. What we normally throw in the trash, is in the ‘Microbial Homes’ recycled, filtered or processed further. The goal is to combine energy, food preservation, waste, electricity supply, a healthy lifestyle and design so as to obtain the maximum benefit. The all-rounder of kitchen islands even manages methane (fuel gas) of solid bathroom waste and vegetable peelings to produce and reduce using plastic molds. Thus giving the ‘Microbial Homes’, as cyclical ecosystems, almost everyone the opportunity to live sustainably - including visual added value.

Worm Towers

Like keyhole gardening, lasagna gardening, hügelkultur, or sheet mulching, worm towers are a way to integrate composting directly in to your growing space, creating an environment that is rich in nutrients and beneficial microorganisms, as well as a habitat is welcoming to soil-enriching and -tilling worms.

Diagram: Ecofilms Australia

The towers can be made of almost any durable material, and should basically consist of a half-buried tube or bucket, with holes large enough so worms can enter and exit. 

I built my worm towers with leftover plastic piping and a handheld drill.

When not adding compost, it is best to cover the top of the tower with an inverted pot or lid, to discourage rodents or birds from digging in it.

Compost is added from the top, and the worms break it down and carry it out through the holes and/or open bottom, leaving rich casings from which the neighbouring plants to derive nutrition.

These towers can be moved around, and waste inputs can be tailored to the soil needs. More hazardous inputs like pet waste can be safely composted in a worm tower in areas where long-term crops like trees are growing.

Related: Beneficial Insect Habitats; Insect Hotels; Natural Insect Habitats; Creating Insect Habitats

#garden hacks #DIY #permaculture #compost #vermicomposting #worms

When Paul Wilson cycles across town, he tends to attract a lot of attention. It’s not due to his attire …  but rather the size of his cargo load. Wilson is one of the East Side Compost Pedallers, a bike-powered compost recycling program in Austin, Texas.

The for-profit organization is on a mission to reduce landfill waste in Austin one bin at a time, by pedaling “scrapple” (their term for compostable food scraps) from homes and businesses to urban farms, schools, and community gardens, where it is composted into rich soil.

(via A Healthy Cycle for Austin’s Compost Scene)