Composting worms are excellent co-habitants that can help us reduce our greenhouse gas output by eating food scraps and waste paper that would otherwise be generating methane in landfills. Local, in-home worms can transform domestic organic waste into a rich, nutritious fertilizer that can be fed to houseplants, food gardens, trees, or lawns. Worms have the potential to play an important role in helping us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but their power to repulse us is a barrier. There is a lot of cultural work to do if we are to develop symbiotic relationships with them. Artist Amy Youngs has begun this work by creating a series of artworks designed to help humans get comfortable with having worms as roommates.
Her series of Worm Cozies are based on the concept of appliance cozies, which were originally created as a way to hide the sight of garish machines inside the domestic space of the kitchen. Youngs’ furry, friendly Worm Cozies similarly function as softening interfaces to help us get used to the idea of living with worm ecosystems. Hidden inside domestic items – teddy bears, paper shredders, plant stands and cook pots – worm ecosystems work to rid our homes of food and paper waste, transforming it into rich fertilizer for houseplants. She has also designed a hydroponic plant tower named the Machine for Living Interdependently, powered by a combination of worm composting and the human action of rocking in a chair, which circulates water and nutrients through the system.
To involve more people in the movement, she created an exhibition of worm projects, called the Vermiculture Makers Club, which included art, new media, DIY design, music, and participatory projects, celebrating the connections between humans and worms. One of the most popular projects with visitors was the Worm Selfie Booth, A photo booth that enables people to pose for a selfie with live composting worms. A button wirelessly activates a camera that automatically uploads photographs to a social media site with the hashtag #wormselfie.
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