With more people spending time at home and finding new hobbies, it seems like a lot of folks are turning to gardening and growing vegetables, possibly even for the first time like me and my partner. One of the amazing things about gardening is that it has so many positive environmental impacts- but it’s not necessarily inherently low-waste. Here are 6 Simple Ways To Reduce Waste While Gardening!
If you’re buying plastic or styrofoam starter pots, for example, that is contributing to the pollution created to make those items and creates a need to eventually dispose of those items. If you’re watering your garden on the daily using your hose, that water usage will really add up! There are so many ways to reduce waste, reuse items around the house, and be smart with kitchen waste to maintain a healthy garden with a low impact!
Depending on where you live in the country (or the world), your garden might be thriving with 4-feet tall plants, or it might be a little sadder, like mine, and have plantlings that just went into the ground this week because of cold overnight temperatures. Hopefully, these tips help you no matter the current state of your garden.
1. Start your plantings from seeds in egg cartons
If you’re starting plants from seeds (which is a pro-gardener move and very brave for a beginner, so congratulations if that’s you!), consider repurposing an egg carton as your pot. Because they are made of recycled paper, they start breaking down right around the time your plants need to move into a larger pot. They’re also compostable, so you can toss them into your green bin afterward. Hopefully your cartons come from free-range eggs, which you can read more about here.
You can also use toilet paper cartons. We wrote a whole blog about it.
2. Start plants from kitchen food scraps
Did you know that $31 billion worth of food is wasted in Canada each year? In an earlier blog post, we shared how you can get started with kitchen scrap gardening to grow new plants from the scraps you’d normally throw in the compost bin. You can grow onions, lettuce, garlic, herbs, and more.
3. Reuse plastic containers when repotting your plants
If you need to repot your plants into a larger home than the egg carton before they go into the ground or a bed, try to use whatever containers you may already have at home. We ended up using our single-serving yogurt cups that we had following some limited pandemic grocery shopping. You could also use takeout coffee cups that you may have accumulated during the pandemic, or plastic pots you have leftover from plants that didn’t make it to adulthood. Once this gardening season is over, you can hang on to these plastic containers to use again next year rather than toss them in the trash.
4. Save kitchen food scraps to use as fertilizer
Whatever scraps you aren’t able to turn into new plants, you can save and use as fertilizer. Some common food scrap fertilizers are banana peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells, because of the nutrients and elements they contain.
5. Collect rainwater to water your garden
Have you heard of rain barrels? They’re a great way to save water and money! Generally, rain barrels collect runoff during storms, which you can then use to water your garden instead of using water from the hose. Click here to read more about rain barrels.
6. Plant flowers and other plants that attract bees
So this tip doesn’t really reduce waste, but it is great for the environment! Be sure to pretty up your garden with some flowers, and do a bit of research to find flowers that will keep the bees buzzing! According to the Honeybee Conservancy, single flower tops like daisies and marigolds are great choices.
Got any other tips for a low-waste garden? Let us know below in the comments!