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  • Think of all the food made in the world each year.

  • Hard to picture?

  • Then, imagine that you are all of humanity,

  • and on a plate in front of you

  • is the one lovely annual meal you make for yourself.

  • You did all sorts of work putting that meal on your table.

  • You must be eager to consume the fruits of your labor.

  • And the vegetables.and meats and waffles of your labor, too, right?

  • Well, oddly enough, a third of that meal ends up in the trash.

  • A third of the food we eat globally,

  • an estimated 1.3 billion tons ends up as waste.

  • All the work we put into producing that food is wasted.

  • And what's worse, it costs us.

  • America alone spends an estimated 165 billion dollars a year managing food waste.

  • We're wasting food, energy and and money.

  • Perhaps worst of all, we're wasting the chance to change,

  • to make the system of food consumption more efficient.

  • If you want to bring on that change,

  • you should know about a humble yet diligent and ever-so-crucial ally: the worm.

  • Worms convert organic waste

  • and other compostable products into natural fertilizers.

  • Up to 75% of what we put in the waste stream

  • can become food and bedding material

  • for vermicomposting.

  • You can create a worm bin in your own home

  • to see the composting process in action.

  • First off, you need worms

  • and not your typical earthworms.

  • You need redworms,

  • eisenia foetida,

  • the species responsible for most

  • vermicomposting in North America.

  • These red wigglers are surface dwellers

  • who don't burrow too deep,

  • they're optimal feeders around room temperature,

  • and they're well-suited to converting organic waste

  • into usable fertilizer

  • Now, your worms might be vermin,

  • but they need a comfortable space to live and work:

  • some bedding materials,

  • either shredded paper or cardboard,

  • some moisture,

  • and, of course, food,

  • namely, your leftovers,

  • slightly decomposed table scraps.

  • The worms break down food waste

  • and other organic matter into castings,

  • a fancy synonym for worm poop.

  • Their excrement is absolutely teeming with microbes,

  • which continue the decomposition process,

  • making all those once-wasted nutrients

  • available again as fertilizer.

  • The timeline for the whole process varies

  • depending on the quantity of worms,

  • the temperature,

  • and how much waste is added to the bin.

  • And there's another timeline to consider.

  • In a healthy worm-bin habitat,

  • worm reproduction will occur

  • when the wigglers become sexually mature,

  • indicated by an elongation of the segments into a bulbous structure.

  • Three-month old wigglers can produce

  • two to three semi-translucent yellow worm cocoons a week.

  • You thought only moths and butterflies

  • come out of cocoons?

  • Well, we can't all be majestic.

  • It takes around 11 weeks for new babies to hatch.

  • When your bin seems to be full of living vermicelli noodles, it's time to share the bounty with your friends and start a vermicompost club.

  • Or keep those worms to yourself

  • and start a business.

  • Vermicomposting isn't confined

  • only to small worm bins,

  • it's an emerging entrepreneurial enterprise.

  • Large-scale facilities convert

  • bulk organic waste and even manure

  • into rich, black castings called black gold.

  • Its value as a soil additive is unparalleled,

  • and it can help plants resist harmful pathogens.

  • The lack of available land in urban environments,

  • coupled with growing interest in smaller-scale farming

  • means there is a market for vermicomposting.

  • Many communities use composting as part of zero-waste strategies,

  • and they can sell their worm-eaten table scraps to local farms, hungry for rich fertilizer.

  • So, instead of wasting money,

  • dumping wasted food in landfills,

  • we can remake waste into an asset,

  • putting it back into our food system to make it more sustainable,

  • all with the help of the humble worm,

  • the tiny organism that can help us

  • change the way we look at food's place in our lives

  • and our place in the world,

  • as long as we give the little guy

  • a place at our table.

  • Well, not an actual seat at the table.

  • A bin in the shed is fine.

Think of all the food made in the world each year.

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B2 US TED-Ed worm waste bin fertilizer organic

【TED-Ed】Vermicomposting: How worms can reduce our waste - Matthew Ross

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    Halu Hsieh posted on 2014/07/08
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