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Gardening is the best hobby to have if you want to live sustainably and be completely self-sufficient. While there are many other beneficial reasons to grow a garden at home, from having direct and cheap access to organic produce to reducing your carbon emissions footprint, the part I enjoy the most is how gardening is low-waste.
With little upfront cost, starting a garden is simple. No matter what type of space you have available, growing a few plants cuts back on what your purchase at the store (and all the plastic packaging that comes with it). You can even grow a few herbs in your kitchen window or on a patio or fire escape.
1. Return Plastic Pot to Nurseries
Did you buy a new plant from the garden nursery? Many stores send plants to their new homes in cheap plastic containers, which is hard to avoid. But most nurseries also accept the pots back. Return any plastic containers for re-use after transplanting your new plants.
2. Create Paper Seed Starters
Never buy seed starter kits or plastic trays for sprouting seeds again! Make your seed starters from cardboard toilet paper rolls or newspapers. All you have to do is save the paper, and cut them into the right shape. If you’re using newspaper, wrap the rolls with hemp rope to help them hold their shape.
When it’s time to transplant your seedlings, no need to scoop the tiny plants from their containers. Place the paper seed starter right into the ground or container. It decomposes over time, providing nutrients to your plants.
3. Buy Unpackaged Tools
Whether you’re buying drip irrigation system pieces or gardening pots, avoid plastic packaging at all costs. Many local garden nurseries or stores offer unpackaged pieces for nearly all your needs.
4. Avoid Plastic Potting Soil
Potting soil typically comes in large plastic bags. Stores don’t tend to offer plastic-free soil bags.
However, you can avoid the packaging altogether by making garden compost and leafmold for your plants. Blend a potting mix by combining compost, leafmold, topsoil, and organic fertilizer. Many of these materials come in bulk bags, which means less plastic at least.
If you can’t avoid plastic potting soil bags, reuse them around the garden or rise them thoroughly to recycle them. Depending on the supplier, you might be able to return the packaging.
5. Make Mulch at Home
Rather than buy packaged mulch, try a natural mulch. Pine needles, for example, are easy to sweep up from the ground. Spread them across your garden beds as mulch or add them to exposed soil for weed and pest control.
Bonus: Mulching also helps your plants lock in moisture, meaning you won’t need to provide water as frequently.
6. Save Water for Your Plants
Water is one of the biggest garden investments. The problem is that, in some locations, it’s also a quickly evaporating natural resource. Conserve your water usage by planting native plants to your location and watering them with saved water.
Recycled rainwater is a free option. You can install a large, covered rain barrel to collect gutter downspout runoff or make one yourself by repurposing an old wooden barrel.
Or, use a metal bucket or container to collect water from your house. Each time you run water to heat up, set the buckets under to save the water for your plants. Collect water from your dehumidifiers to water the garden, or take the greywater plunge and begin boiling your waste water.
7. Repurpose Materials for Netting
Photo from Needpix.com.
Most netting to deter pests from your garden is made from plastic. While you could find someone who no longer needs theirs or buy organic cotton mesh (or another type of fabric), there are other materials you can repurpose to keep pests away. An old dog crate is perfect for susceptible crops like strawberries. Chicken wire is also a reusable option.
What are Your Favorite Zero Waste Gardening Tips?
People come up with new and inventive ideas to save vital resources every day. The above list does not encompass all the options you have to cut back on waste in your garden. But they are the best tips for beginners.
I hope you enjoyed my gardening tips! What are your favorite ways to reduce waste in the garden? Share your experiences and preferences in the comments below.