Grow something green and reduce your waste.
Gardening is good for the planet, and so is upcycling. Here’s how you can combine the two practices with a few very easy tricks!
Upcycling is a fantastic way to reduce your waste and make your lifestyle more eco-friendly. New Zealanders generate, on average, more than 250,000 tonnes of waste per month which goes straight to landfill. Anything we can do to reduce that number is a step in the right direction.
Gardening is another hands-on way to care for the planet, reducing emissions from the transport of food and the harmful effects of commercial fertilisers and growing procedures. What’s more, both upcycling and gardening can save you a lot of money.
With the two major qualities of eco-friendliness and thriftiness in mind, we have put together a few ideas for products that you can upcycle for use in the garden.
First and perhaps most simply, glass jars are ideal for use in your plant-growing endeavours. When you finish a jar of jam, peanut butter, olives, or something else, don’t toss the jar. Keep it, take the labels off, and turn it into a planter for small plants like herbs. Nothing says eco-friendly domestic expert like a row of various herbs in upcycled glass jars on your windowsill.
The trick to using jars as herb planters is not to over-water them, as they don’t have drainage holes. If you have the tools available, you can drill holes in the bottom of the jars and use old saucers (find these in op shops if necessary) to put underneath. This makes the jar into a more typical plant pot—but if you don’t drown your plants, there are no issues with using the jar as-is.
Toothbrushes made from biodegradable bamboo—like these ones—are already an eco-friendly choice. But to keep them out of the landfill altogether once they are too old to aid in oral hygiene, why not give them a second life as garden labels?
Garish plastic and brightly coloured plant labels can ruin the aesthetic of a pretty garden bed, but sometimes labelling is desirable to identify different types of vegetables or even flowers. Cut the old bristles off your bamboo toothbrush, write a subtle label on the back of the handle with a black sharpie, and plant it next to the plant you wish to identify. Easy!
A non-woven tote bag can be repurposed as a handy upside-down planter for tomatoes. You can also use a woven tote like our sturdy canvas pocket totes, lined with a plastic bag to keep the fabric from breaking down due to contact with the damp soil.
To get your tomatoes going, grow them to seedling size in a container. Then, cut a very small hole in the bottom of your bag, just large enough to pass the root ball through and into the bag. Reach into the top and pull the plant into the bag until around a third of the stem is inside. Then you can carefully fill the bag with soil, putting newspaper around the hole if necessary to prevent any dirt falling through. Once this is done and the majority of the plant is protruding from the bottom of the bag with its roots inside and well-covered with soil, hang the bag by its handles on sturdy hooks or on a pole. Put it somewhere sunny and water it regularly.
These ideas are not the only ways to upcycle the things you would otherwise throw out as rubbish. There are many, many ideas out there—and you can also come up with your own ideas which fit your lifestyle and the waste you find yourself with. These three horticultural tricks, however, are extremely simple and easy for just about anyone to do. If you’re a keen gardener, give them a go! We’d love to hear how you get on—tag us in your pictures on Instagram!