If you are aiming to work towards a zero waste lifestyle, a garden can be a great start!
We recently partnered with The Million Gardens Movement to support programs that provide resources to those who want to grow real food and contribute to a healthier more sustainable world.
Unfortunately, all too often when trying to live in a less wasteful way, gardeners may forget what zero waste really means.
They may not always do all they can to make sure that their garden is a closed-loop system. Gardens should not generate waste. In fact, they should help you eliminate it altogether.
So to help you go zero waste in your garden we wrote up 5 tips to help your zero-waste garden thrive.
Refuse: Say No To Harmful Products and Processes
Zero waste living does not always begin with what we decide to buy, but often, it starts with what we choose not to buy. As gardeners, what we don’t buy is just as important, if not more important, than what we do.
It is important to remember that waste occurs not only in our homes, but also throughout production, processing and supply chains. We need to look at all forms of waste – not just materials waste but also the waste of land, water and other resources.
We should avoid plastic use (especially single use) where possible, and seek out more sustainable solutions.
By avoiding the use of peat in our pots, we can avoid the waste of precious wetland ecosystems.
And we can choose to garden organically, working with nature rather than fighting it, and avoiding all synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.
By saying no to these and other harmful products in our gardens, we can reduce waste not only on our own properties, but also in the wider world.
Reduce: Buy Less By Using Garden Resources
If we manage and tend our gardens wisely and well, we can obtain many of the things we need to maintain it from the garden itself. Rather than buying plastic twine, for example, we might make our own from natural fibres. We might create trellises, fences and other structures using natural branches rather than buying new…
But we can not only avoid generating waste through carefully choosing the ways in which we carry out our gardening activities. We can use the bounty that nature provides as we continue on our own personal journeys to reduce consumption.
The less we buy, of course, the less waste is generated in our names. So by using your garden to the fullest, growing your own food, herbal remedies, crafting materials and more, you can reduce your need to buy, and the toll you take on people and planet.
Reuse: Explore Exciting Reclamation and Reuse Options in Your Garden
In your garden, not everything you need can be made from the natural resources around you. But this offers the option to reduce waste in other areas. Often, in a garden, you can use reclaimed materials or items which might otherwise have been thrown away.
For example, you can embrace second-hand tools and garden items, rather than buying new. You can use a range of food packaging in seed sowing and as pots or cloches. And, from making vertical gardens to bed edging to pathways and more, you can keep reclaimed materials out of the waste stream in a range of interesting and exciting ways.
Repair: Mend Items, Heal People, Heal Ecosystems
In your garden, as in your home, you should aim to keep items you already have in use for as long as possible. Learning how to repair garden tools and other gardening items can also help reduce consumption and waste.
Learning the skills of repair can be beneficial outside of just fixing your tools.
A garden can be a place of solace for troubled minds, and a place where people can recover from stresses and trauma. It can make sure people are healthy, happy, and able to become all they can be and achieve all they can achieve. Also, a garden can help anyone avoid wasting time, energy and potential.
Living a zero waste lifestyle, is, ultimately, about making sure that we, as people, are not a negative, but a positive influence on the world around us. By thinking about how you might repair the natural world around you – restoring features for a functioning ecosystem, and helping to halt biodiversity losses by attracting wildlife to the space – you can do great good in your garden and the world.
Recycle & Reciprocate: Return Surplus to the System
Nature gives us so much. We can’t simply throw away what has been so generously given. Appreciating nature and valuing all it does for us is key to zero waste living.
In a zero waste garden, we have to remember not only that we should not squander nature’s gifts, but also, that we should take whatever steps we can to give back. We should always take excess generated within the gardens, and within our homes, and return it to the system.
That means composting food scraps and other biodegradable material, and laying that compost as a mulch to enrich the soil. It means using plant matter (even weeds) to make mulches and liquid plant feeds etc..
It also means looking at how we keep nature’s cycles turning – the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle and the water cycle key among them. By harvesting rainwater, for example, making use of grey water from washing machines etc. in our homes, and by using water wisely and efficiently in our gardens, we can prevent water waste and keep this cycle turning.
By channelling ‘waste’ back into our gardens, we can ensure that they become truly circular, closed loop systems which contribute only in positive ways to life on our planet. Your garden can become key in making all types of waste a thing of the past.