Grow Your Own Zero Waste Solutions

lavender-167794_640Our gardens can help us create Zero Waste Solutions for our households. Growing our own fruit and vegetables can reduce packaging and give our families healthy food choices, but our gardens can grow even more options to help us create Zero Waste households.

This week, Zero Waste Canada gives some planting ideas for growing in your garden or plant pots.

lufa vine
luffa vine
  • Grow your own (loofah) luffa:  Reduce plastic of microfiber usage by growing your own luffa.  Loofah sponges as often seen in the bathroom as a means of exfoliating skin are neither sea sponge nor plastic product; loofah  sponges come from the luffa plant which is an annual similar to a cucumber. The loofah sponge is actually a fibrous seed pod from the luffa plant.  Loofah/luffa sponges can be used both in the bathroom and in the kitchen for scrubbing. You can also eliminate microplastics by making your own loofah soap. By growing luffa you can reduce plastic sponges that need disposal, and you have a product that can be composted at the end of life plus the young smaller gourds are also edible.
  • Grow your own band-aid :  Instead of plastic band-aids, Wooly Lamb’s Ear, botanical name Stachys byzantina, has been used for centuries as a wound dressing on battlefields. Not only do the soft, fuzzy leaves absorb blood and help it to clot more quickly, they also contain antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. All of these factors make this plant a really great alternative to store-bought bandages. Wooly Lamb’s Ear Lamb’s Ears is a very hardy and strong-growing perennial, with thick white-wooly foliage and pink-purple flower spikes, valued as a dense, low growing, spreading bedding plant in the landscape.
  • Grow your own air freshener : Reduce chemical sprays by growing lavender. Lavender is an easy to grow perennial. Lavender has medicinal uses, culinary uses and producing a pleasant calming scent. Dried flower buds can be used scent pillows or linen in drawers. Essential oil can be made to be used for aromatheraphy, relieving headaches or making bath products. It is possible to make simple nature air fresheners sprays by using lavender essential oil instead of using toxic chemicals like acetaldehyde .
  • Grow your own tea : Growing herbs in our garden or in pots is a wonderful inexpensive way to produce your own herbal tea blends. Leaves, buds and petals of a number of different plants can be trimmed and dried or mixed together with other herbs for tea blends that last for months. When it comes to herbs, a single plant can produce quite a bit of usable parts, but you may want to plant more around your garden for aesthetic purposes. And what you don’t use fresh can easily be dried (in a dehydrator or hung) and stored for later use. Homemade teas make a most wonderful gift, too! Tea can be stored in a mason jar.
  • Grow your own spices: Growing herbs in a pot on a windowsill or in the garden gives the option for both fresh and dried seasonings.

Growing your own reduces waste, uses less plastic and means having less toxins, and is more fun.



Fruit Tree Projects :rescuing backyard fruit


apple-1532055_640Fruit Tree Projects across Canada are tackling the problem of food waste in our own backyards.

Those fruit trees in our backyards can be a fabulous source of fresh, healthful food for family, friends or food banks. The bounty from backyard fruit trees can sometimes go to waste when fruit doesn’t get picked when it’s ripe, or there’s just too much fruit for one family to use when things ripen all at once.

Fruit Tree Projects are a form of urban gleaning: picking a crop, especially the part of a crop that might have previously gone to waste while connecting this food with individuals in need.

Fruit Tree Projects are non-profit organizations that rely on volunteers to pick the fruit. A common model of harvest sharing for these food recovery groups is one-third of produce for home-owner, one-third of produce goes to volunteer pickers and one-third goes to a local organization that can use food. The Halton Food Tree Project has donated rescued produce to organizations like Refresh Foods For Life and given 5000 apples to a farm to school food program.

The first Fruit Tree Project was founded in Victoria B.C. in 1998, LifeCycles Project Society . This community organization focuses on initiatives that create urban sustainability and food security solutions and has grown to provide projects that promote growing food and cooking healthy affordable meals.

Fruit Tree Projects can be found across Canada with large cities like Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal having recovery/gleaning groups. Fruit Tree projects can also be found in smaller communities like Nelson B.C.

The benefits of Fruit Tree Projects include reducing food waste, improving access to local food, building community, knowledge sharing and addressing climate change. As an example to highlight the positive impact of these programs in Victoria, LifeCycles Fruit Tree Project harvests between 30,000 to 40,000 pounds of produce from privately owned trees that would otherwise go to waste. Toronto’s fruit tree project, Not Far from the Tree estimates that is approximately 1.5 million pounds produced by Toronto’s urban canopy and most goes unpicked.

With over 4 million individuals in Canada experiencing food insecurity, these local solutions can create opportunities and positive impacts in our communities.

If do not have a Fruit Tree project in your community, you may want to start one, LifeCycles has produced an informative guide on how to start a Fruit Tree Project .

If you have fruit trees that may go to waste consider contacting your local “Fruit Tree Project” .Or if you are looking for a rewarding volunteer experience for the whole family volunteer to pick fruit.

Fruit is a valuable natural resource that is too good to waste.


More links

Fruit Tree Projects in BC

Hamilton Fruit Tree project
















Getting Resourceful By Repurposing In The Garden

violets-garden-1446900_640The old adage “One man’s trash is another person’s treasure” is never truer in the garden.

The garden is a great place to be resourceful by using items that may have been destined for the trash bin.

Here are 10 garden projects using items you may no longer use for their original purpose.

  1. Mini-blinds plant markers: With only one set of mini-blinds, you can make hundreds of plant markers that are virtually indestructible. Cutting a 25″ mini blind slat into 4 labels makes a perfect label for 3″ and 4″ pots. Cutting them in half makes a perfect label for a 3 or 5 gallon pot.

Remember those holes where the strings go through the blinds? Save the strings, because if you cut a plant label with one of those holes at the end, you have a tie-on weatherproof label for your trees and shrubs.

  1. Rubbermaid container worm composter: use an old plastic storage bin container to make  a worm composter. Kitchen and yard waste along with old newspapers and cardboard can be turned into a wonderful soil additive with the help of worms.
  2. Broken ceramics as pot drainage: Put your broken ceramic pieces in the bottom of plant pots for added drainage.
  3. Broken basket potato planter: Potatoes are the only vegetable that a person can solely survive on.  Although potatoes are mainly starch, they contain up to 11% protein. Potatoes like to grow in the dark in mounds of soil. Growing potatoes in old containers is an easy method to conserve space in the garden while achieving an abundant yield of potatoes.
  4. Panty Hose Deer Repellant: The best known deer repellent is ordinary bar soap.  If you place a bar of soap inside the foot of old panty hose and hang it from your apple tree, it should deter the deer from nibbling on your tree.

Another popular repellent is human hair, the smell of which is also said to send deer scurrying elsewhere. Just ask a barber or hairdresser to collect a bag full of hair, and then stuff a handful of it into the leg of an old panty hose and hang it in your trees and shrubs

  1. Keep flower pots moist with old sponges: Cut up your old sponges and place them in the bottom of plant pots. They’ll hold moisture for a long time.
  2. Make a gutter garden:  Take advantage of vertical space by using old gutters on a wall or fence.gutter garden
  3. Bowl and Plate bird feeder: Make a bird feeder from an old plate and bowl bird feeder

9.Rake head garden tool organizer : Store garden tools using an old rake head. rake04

10.PVC pipe flagpole: Make a flagpole for the garden using old PVC pipe and decorate your garden.