Small worm bin

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I have a large worm bin at my house, but I wanted to make a bin that I can keep safely at school, under my desk. This would also work underneath a kitchen sink or another small space.

My worms are mostly eating coffee grounds and shredded paper, but they also get some leftover vegetables from lunch and from home.

I used two smaller bins that fit under my desk.

After drilling holes for aeration, I covered the boxes with paper (to keep the worms in the dark), added food, soil and dampened paper for the worms to dig in, and put the boxes together.


clear boxes need to be covered


adding in organic matter after it is chopped up


I use a Keurig at work. This kind is easier to add the grounds and filters to the worm bin.



But with scissors and a little effort it is possible to use the regular K cups.


Poke a hole, dump the grounds, and peel the filter out.


I drilled aeration holes and then covered the bin with paper. I poked holes through the paper too.


Here’s my worm bin, expertly covered in leftover scrapbooking paper.


And here’s the bin, tucked away under my desk.

Permaculture Utopia

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As my final, I’ve created a permaculture utopia for South Anchorage High School.

The plan includes: communication changes, outdoor classrooms, and a continual feedback loop from students, staff, and the community.

What would your ideal high school look like? Thanks for taking a moment to check out mine. Feedback is always welcome!

Emergency water filter

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Following the instructions in the video below I made an emergency water filter in front of my AP Language class this morning. Students in AP Lang have been working on a year-long project called CRAVE, during which they investigate an issue they are passionate about and work to answer a research question. My research question has been “How can my family live more lightly on the earth?” and in order to answer it I am taking permaculture classes through the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

I purchased most of my components from the garden section of Lowe’s but one eluded me: large to medium size gravel. I resorted to taking some from around the foundation of my house and though I rinsed it a few times, I did not wash it. Upon completing my water filter the dirty water did not come out clean. So, what happened? My theory is that the gravel from the house wasn’t clean enough. We ran clean water through the filter and it still came out dirty, though sediment sank to the bottom of the lower half of the filter.

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Foraged Salad: Traditional Foods, Contemporary Chef Southeast Alaska – YouTube

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Foraged Salad: Traditional Foods, Contemporary Chef Southeast Alaska – YouTube.

I’m looking forward to the wild edibles poking up in the mud after the snow melts. I will dig out my gardening gloves to harvest nettles.

Here’s last year’s post: Wild Edibles

And Laurie Constantino’s wild edibles website.


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A few weeks ago I was completely fascinated by scientists putting UV threads in window panes in order to prevent birds from crashing into window panes and dying. They’d noticed that birds don’t “see” glass but are able to avoid spiderwebs when flying quickly through a forest. Spiderwebs have, you guessed it, ultraviolet light that birds can see, and know to avoid. So I’ve been talking about these ideas and biomimicry with Cormac, because it’s cool.

This afternoon on NPR we heard a story about hagfish; the slime they create to fight off sharks and other sea creatures has threads in it that are strong, like silk. The hope is that the thread can be used to replaces fibers like spandex, which are created from oil, a non-renewable resource. Hagfish threads are made from proteins which can be created in a lab rather than directly from the hagfish, creatures that are difficult to raise in captivity. ”

“Proteins are a renewable resource because we can get organisms to make them,” says Douglas Fudge the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

Here’s a link to the NPR story:

And a cool video of hagfish being attacked by sharks! Biomimicry is cool for kids.

Water Footprint Calculator

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For class this week I calculated our family’s water footprint at

We are definitely way better than the average American but still have changes we can make. We don’t pay for the amount of water we use, just a flat rate, but I don’t think that should be an excuse to use up natural resources. There are still issues of security regarding our food and water supply so I’ve got a filter to assemble this afternoon. I’ll try to reblog some of the things my classmates have been making.

Water Footprint Calculator

Your Water Footprint

Your total household water use is 3,217 gallons per day.

Your individual water use is 805 gallons per day.

    • You do not have any low-flow shower heads in your home. By switching to low-flow shower heads, you can reduce water flow by over 1 gallon per minute.
    • You do not have any low-flow toilets in your home. By switching to low-flow toilets, you can reduce your water use up to 2.5 gallons per flush.
    • You do not have any low-flow faucets in your home. By switching to low-flow faucets, you can reduce your water flow by 3.5 gallons per minute.
    • Based on your response, your household uses over 15 gallons of water per person per day just for the laundry. You may want to consider purchasing an Energy Star clothes washer. Also consider doing your laundry less often and making sure that you only use your washing machine when it’s full. (Dang Fly Lady and her load a day!)
    • Based on your response, your household uses more than 1 gallon of water per person per day – which is the national average – for dish washing. You may want to consider purchasing an Energy Star dishwasher and using fewer dishes when you cook and serve meals.
  • By riding a bike, using public transit, carpooling or switching to a car with greater fuel efficiency (higher MPG), you can save water (and gasoline).

TAPO of my neighborhood


“Observe & Interact” is permaculture principle #1 and so for Permaculture class last week I wrote a “Thoughtful and Protracted Observation” of my neighborhood.

With a broken toe, it’s still hard to move around through the snow, so I had to settle for standing on the deck with a cup of coffee and a sweatshirt. I added a few pictures to illustrate things but ought to have added some current pictures.

TAPO of my neighborhood | NRM 593 Introduction to Permaculture.

Victim of Climate Change


Yardley, William. “Victim of Climate Change, a Town Seeks a Lifeline.” The New York Times 27 May 2007: n. pag. Print.

This article is on the impact climate change has had on Alaskan villages, specifically Newtok. Villages like Newtok are ancient places, populated with Native Alaskans who depend on the quality of the land, water, and animals for survival. Climate change caused Newtok to be cut off, and sink below sea level. Village elders wished to move the village, though the cost would have been over $400,000 per resident.

Native Alaskan villages seem worlds away from New York, where this newspaper is located, not just thousands of miles. A piece like this is significant because it gives readers around the world a perspective on what might come to be in their areas: barrier islands, beach communities on a coast, towns in low-lying areas. We have seen some of this happen in a big city with the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and most recently New Jersey and New York City during last fall’s Hurricane Sandy. As larger populations are affected, and more lives are disrupted, will these issues associated with climate chaos be addressed?

As I look at how my family can live more lightly on the earth articles like this show me that every little bit, every change I can make, has a ripple effect. The planet is one big eco-system and even small villages, flights away from cities, feel the impact on their culture. It concerns me that after this article was published U.S. citizens and businesses didn’t learn much. It didn’t really become part of the national conversation and it barely even because part of the conversation in Anchorage.