Beginning Steps for a Sustainable Lifestyle
Living a sustainable, eco-friendly and ethical life will not only help our planet, it will also help us. Using renewable resources and reducing consumption, renewing the old and recycling what we can, will make us happier, save us money and allow us to live much fuller and richer lives. But when you are making the transition to a more conscientious way of life, it can be difficult to know how and where to begin.
One good place to begin is by changing your attitude to the household waste that most people throw away. By reusing and valuing food waste and packaging and by breathing new life into broken or disused items, we can begin to work towards a better way of life – better for us and better for our planet. To help you get started, here are some of the eco-friendly ways to use household waste in your garden. (Creating a garden and growing your own food is another very good place to start.)
“Most of us waste a lot of food without really thinking about it.”
Reusing Food Waste
Most of us waste a lot of food without really thinking about it. We put apple cores, banana skins, peel from root vegetables, and food past its best into the bin when what we should realise is that this ‘waste’ is actually incredibly useful. It can be used to make compost, which can feed the soil, which can feed plants, which ultimately feed us. This cycle is hugely important in an organic, permaculture garden. So set up a composting system in your home to harvest this useful resource and prevent food waste going to landfill sites.
Reusing Cardboard and Paper Waste
Cardboard and paper waste can also be composted at home. But some cardboard and paper can also be used to make a range of useful things. Shredded, unbleached paper can make a good mulch to keep moisture in the soil, toilet roll tubes make fantastic bird feeders when smeared with lard and rolled in seeds. Toilet roll tubes can also be used, along with many different pieces of card or paper, to make biodegradable plant pots that can be popped straight in the soil. These are great for plants that do not like root disturbance.
Reusing Plastic Waste
Plastic is one of the most problematic forms of waste. We should try to avoid plastic packaging as much as possible. Often, however, the food we buy comes in plastic and so we end up with one-use plastic in our homes. Before we send plastic off to recycling centres, there are several useful applications for plastic containers in a permaculture garden. Plastic tubs can be used as plant pots, trays can be used as propagators and used in seed starting. Plastic bottles can be used as cloches, as collars to keep off pests, to make vertical gardens or even to make a greenhouse.
Reusing Glass Bottles & Jars
Glass is easy to find a use for in the garden and around the home. Those with lids can be used to store your harvest. Making preserves can be very satisfying and can help you make the most of the produce from your garden. Glass bottles can also be used to make a beautiful path edge, or even, daubed together with clay/ mud, to make a wall or even a garden building.
Reusing Metal Cans
Metal cans can be perfect plant containers for succulents and though they will get rusty, they can look good in the right setting. Metal cans can also be used to make a watering can, or tied together to create a device that will scare off birds and stop them eating your crops. Metal cans may also create an interesting alternative edging for vegetable or flower beds.
Reusing Old Wooden Furniture
Sometimes, we have bigger items that we are thinking of getting rid of, such as old wooden cupboards or chests of drawers. Even items of furniture that seem beyond repair, that are too old and broken to upcycle easily, may get a second lease of life in your garden. They may be used either in one piece as raised beds or vertical gardens, or taken apart and used in wooden pieces to make bed edges or steps or other things required in garden landscaping.
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Summary Interesting blogpost!