Ever since childhood, Hillary has found joy in caring for the world around her.
From raising a deck full of houseplants to choosing environmentally-friendly products, Hillary’s everyday actions help keep her worries about more global environmental issues at bay.
“It’s easy to get anxious about climate change. It helps to know I’m doing everything within my power to play my part,” she says.
But, when Hillary became a mum, she felt a sudden, strong need to do more. Instead of working alone, she wanted to include her son Leo, now 2, in her environmentally-friendly wellbeing routine—to help him grow up loving, respecting and embracing the natural world.
When she realised her current activities weren’t a good fit for a toddler’s attention span, she started searching for a nature-focussed activity they could do together.
Fortunately, her search was cut short when her parents delivered an unexpected and somewhat wriggly housewarming present—a composting worm farm.
“It was a bit random,” she muses on the worms’ sudden arrival, “but it was the perfect gift for us.” Although Hillary didn’t choose the worm life, she and Leo were instantly captivated by their new pets. Leo gave each one a name and started taking an active role in their care and feeding.
“They’re all called Leo,” he says proudly. “I like when they wriggle and eat up my banana skin. It’s funny.”
“I like when they wriggle and eat up my banana skin. It’s funny.”
Running the worm farm is something that both Leo and Hillary enjoy. It’s a shared wellbeing activity that not only connects them to each other, but to the world around them. Every day, Leo and Hillary work together to add the family’s food scraps to the worm bin.
“If I’m cooking a meal and know I’ll have scraps for the worms, I put out a bowl and fill it up as I go,” says Hillary of her worm farming technique. “If it’s a random banana peel or apple core, Leo will help me put it straight in the worm farm.”
However, as much as they love Leo’s banana peels, the worms can’t eat everything. Hillary is careful to keep meat, dairy, protein and cooked scraps separate. “They are harder for the worms to break down so can create an unpleasant smell and attract flies.”
The family also adds other biodegradable materials like shredded paper, teabags (without staples) and clean paper towels to the worm farm as a sustainable way to keep them out of landfill.
Aside from reducing their household rubbish and providing high quality compost, using the worm farm has had another unexpected benefit: it's sparked conversations with Leo about other environmental issues like recycling and rubbish disposal. Their talks have inspired new wellbeing activities for the family, including the introduction of a special yellow recycling bin for Leo to sort cardboard and cans.
Watching her son learn and connect with the environment in this way has provided a great source of daily happiness. “It’s reinforced my love of nature and the importance I place on the environment,” she says.
“It’s reinforced my love of nature and the importance I place on the environment.”
“I think it’s easy and comfortable to stick your head in the sand and think ‘there’s nothing I can do about climate change.’ But taking small steps like using the worm farm, having a reusable water bottle or recycling does make a difference.”
Hillary’s advice for anyone thinking of getting a worm farm is simple. “Get one!” she says. “By doing this seemingly small thing, you’re contributing and doing your part to reduce waste and help the environment.”
And with a bunch of wiggly, slimy new friends to play with, worm farming’s a wellbeing activity that will inspire kids to get their hands dirty too. Just ask proud worm parent, Leo.