Worms in her basement?

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Michele St. Martin’s ongoing environmental evolution

My family is going to try vermiculture this winter.

Vermiculture is the fancy name for worm composting. If you’re not well versed in compost methods, the idea is one that takes some getting used to. WORMS in the house? Eating garbage? Won’t it smell? What if they escape?

It turns out that it’s really pretty simple. Worms eat the same stuff you throw in a compost bin. Worms do all the work and provide you with the great stuff that helps your garden grow (if you don’t garden, just let the word slip to friends who do, and believe me, they’ll fight to take it off your hands). And if you do it right, there’s no smell.

Learn about worm composting:
www.wormwoman.com

Many ways you can save the earth:
www.earth911.org

Don’t throw it away, freecycle it:
www.freecycle.org
An alternative if you live in the Twin Cities:
www.twincitiesfreemarket.org

It took a little convincing to get my significant other to buy in to the idea of worms eating our garbage in the basement, but we’re there now, though I would describe his attitude as more resigned than enthusiastic. The kids, on the other hand, think it’s neat; in fact, we’ve had to tell them they can’t play with the worms.

Eureka Recycling director Susan Hubbard’s mantra of no garbage has had quite an effect on me. Like many people, I’d already taken steps to walk more lightly on the planet-we’ve got some compact florescent bulbs, we recycle, we compost, we “freecycle.” I’m on the lookout for less- or non-toxic household cleaning products. I know there’s so much more we can do, and I’m pretty excited about the difference we can make.

One new thing for us: We’re shopping for our clothing at thrift stores. I’m not saying I’ll never buy anything at an independent clothing store or department store again; but we’ve started looking first at thrift stores and have picked up some amazing finds. In fact, the challenge is to not buy too much when the prices are low and the selection as good as we’ve found. I’m introducing my daughters to the concept of thrifting and while they are not quite as enthusiastic as I am-yet-they’re getting into the spirit of the thing and are especially excited to see how much further our dollars go.

Packaging is a biggie I wrestle with. The ultimate answer is to just say no to all excessively packaged products, but I’m not willing to make that total commitment. What I am committed to doing is looking for choices, and if there’s a choice with less packaging, to buy that product. In the case of the most egregious offenders, I write the manufacturer telling them why they won’t get my money unless they change their evil ways.

And one other thing: my morning latte. Starting tomorrow, I’m bringing my own cup when I go to that coffee shop around the corner. Not a big thing to do-but when you have a serious latte habit, those tall cardboard cups really add up.

Want to make a few changes? I’ve listed a few resources. Have some suggestions about how you’re changing the universe through being more environmentally conscious? Tell me about it at editor@womenspress.com.


U of M taps ethnic media to boost minority enrollment, hiring
by Edwin Okong’o , Mshale
A top University of Minnesota official in charge of reaching out to underrepresented communities said today that the institution was far from achieving its goal of a diverse student body, faculty and staff, and appealed to ethnic media to help.

Nancy “Rusty” Barceló, the vice president and vice provost for equity and diversity, spoke to journalists, editors and publishers of various Twin Cities ethnic media, gathered at her invitation for a breakfast meeting at the university’s Coffman Memorial Union.

“This university is not as diverse as we want it to be,” Barceló said. “When I walk on this campus I don’t see enough African American students, faculty and staff.”

The call to the ethnic press was part of her office’s strategy to communicate with minority and underrepresented communities, Barceló said.

“I see this meeting as just the beginning,” she said, “a way to start identifying how we can all work together to help our communities that each one of us serve.”

Barceló asked members of minority media to start thinking of ways that could be used, in addition to advertising, to reach to their communities.

“There are many, many, more points of collaboration that reflect our shared vision of education and investment in our community,” Barceló said.

Many of Barceló’s guests decried the university’s unwillingness to advertise in minority papers. One of them waved a half-page advertisement the university had placed in one mainstream newspaper and wondered why small community papers had been denied access.

In response, Barceló’s promised to contact each individual news medium that was represented at the meeting to find ways they could work together.

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