One of my plans for this year is to reduce the amount of waste we produce as a family (just to be clear, I’m talking about rubbish, not human waste). We already do a fair bit to reduce what we send to landfill, and make our tread that bit gentler on old Mother Earth but (perhaps the hippy in me) thinks we could do more.
We have had a wormery for quite a long time for kitchen scraps (though not onions or citrus – worms are quite fussy you know) and we also add in old newspapers or shredded paper to this every now and then, to make sure it doesn’t get too soggy and smelly. The worms do an amazing job and chomp their way through it all, making fantastic compost, and the liquid that gathers in the bottom section of the wormery is an excellent plant food (it needs diluting). We also have a compost bin, which we use for kitchen scraps (onions and citrus peel go in this one), grass cuttings, the sawdust and straw from the chicken coop and leaves. Once we got the chickens though, this one filled up really quickly and so now we also have a heap at the end of the garden which I’m chucking all the garden waste onto.
I’m not really sure what I’ll use the compost from this one for, as I’m not fussy about the weeds I chuck on it and so it’ll probably be riddled with weed seeds (which seem Terminator-like in their refusal to die) – but that’s a problem for another year.
Having kids means that there is also a lot of cooked food that would end up in the rubbish bin, any pasta or rice with vegetables would get given to the chickens as a treat (as do some veg peelings) however we were still throwing a lot of food waste away, particularly leftover meat. We received a leaflet through the door about a subsidised hot composting system which we could put cooked food waste into, meat, bones, everything and so we decided to treat ourselves (we know how to live).
So we now have a (rodent proof) Green Johanna, sitting happily in the shade hopefully creating some lovely compost from the food that would otherwise have ended up in the bin. Having all these systems means that now, we don’t put any food waste into the bin, so that was the food side of things sorted.
We also do a lot of recycling; paper, plastic, cardboard, glass and tins are all recycled at our local collection points – but even recycling things uses energy, and I wanted to reduce how much we were throwing out in the first place. Plastics are definitely the thing we recycle the most of, and when I’ve looked at what the plastics are made up of, there’s a lot of plastic punnets that fruit come in (yes, we could buy fruit from the market or the local greengrocer which may not have as much wrapping, but it’s more expensive and it’s not like we have a tonne of spare cash) and I’ve decided to use these (and some plastic sweet and cracker tubs from Christmas) for planting veg seeds in. I used to have lots of seed trays at the allotment at the old house but we left many of these behind, and so this will also save us a bit of money.
I’m also going to use old toilet roll and kitchen roll tubes as biodegradable plant pots for those plants that don’t like to have their roots disturbed – like corn on the cob and runner beans which I’m hoping to grow this year. I’ve also been keeping the net bags from fruit with the idea that I might somehow be able to create some netting for fruit plants – though this might require some sewing wizardry to make them big enough.
I am yet to decide what to do with the vast amount of plastic milk bottles which we seem to get through, although after a quick Google I quite like the idea of using the top halves as cloches for new plants and the bottoms as yet more seed trays.
Once the veg plot is finally ready it might look a little like a junk yard with all the old plastic bottles around the place, but I think it’ll be worth if it we get some lovely veggies as well as making our tread that bit lighter.