Expanding the Way We Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

Sunday, October 4, 2009


We’ve all tried to live by the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle motto in one way or another. But, with these helpful tips you can extend your efforts even farther. You might even come up with a few tips of your own.

Use unwanted fish tanks or plastic storage containers as brooders for baby chicks. Simple line with newspaper or shavings, hang a heat lamp overhead and your chicks will be toasty warm until they’re big enough to go out into the world.

Cut the bottom off of ½-gallon or 1-gallon plastic milk jugs and use as cloches in the garden to protect tender young plants from cold nights. When not in use they can be easily stacked and stored.

Egg cartons filled with soil make wonderful seed trays, or pots to start small cuttings. And, the cardboard cartons will eventually decompose in the soil, while the Styrofoam cartons can be saved for further use.

The cardboard tubes on toilet paper rolls also make great little pots for larger seeds like squash, melons and tomatoes. Simply cut the tube in half, make half inch slits around one end and fold the tabs towards the middle to close the bottom. Fill with soil and you’re ready to plant.

Clear plastic, lidded “to-go” containers are perfect as mini greenhouses.

Yoghurt, cottage cheese and sour cream containers make great plant labels when cut into strips. Use water-proof markers and you’ll always know what you’ve planted.

Buying mulch in bags can be expensive and creates waste for landfills. To save money and reduce waste, buy mulch in bulk from local dealers. An added benefit is the exercise you’ll get when distributing the mulch.

Instead of buying plant stakes or tomato cages use branches, twigs and tree trimmings to make your own. If your pruning doesn’t produce what you need, ask neighbors for their trimmings. Even broken tool handles can be used to stake large plants.

Old pantyhose can be used to tie up plants like tomatoes and cucumbers and will last for several seasons before having to be thrown out.

Save plastic utensils, from take-out orders, to mark seed rows and keep your garden well organized.

Newspapers and cardboard make great weed guards on garden paths and walkways between vegetable beds. Hide by covering with leaves or grass clippings, and then rototill everything in next season for added mulch to garden soil.

By thinking creatively you’ll soon be transforming previously useless items into useful garden and homesteading tools.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Raychel Mendez

Leave a Reply