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.

 

 

The Mason Jar- Zero Waste Living

The Mason Jar
The Mason Jar

The Mason jar is a versatile container for Zero Waste living.

In 1858, John Landis Mason, patented a square-shouldered jar with a threaded screw-top, matching lid and rubber ring for an airtight seal. His design would revolutionize home preserving allowing food to be safely stored and used beyond the season of harvesting, but it would be after his patent expired in 1879 that competitors would market his design to the masses. While the invention would continue to bear his name, John Landis Mason would die in poverty.

By the early twentieth century, industrial advances made jar manufacturing faster and more economical. Mason jars became the container for home canning. Wartime efforts promoted   “ Victory Gardens” and preserving food by home canning but after the war years with the proliferation of supermarkets and the marketing of store bought products home canning declined.

Sales of mason jars are once again spiking up, in part, because  there is a revived interest in home canning, but also because the brand owners like Ball and Bernardin recognized that consumers were looking for eco-friendly packaging , versatile products for do it yourself projects, and healthy comfort food. Marketing strategies changed to social media and online canning demonstrations instead of traditional print ads. Pinterest and facebook help to connect to a younger market.

Many of us for health and environmental reasons are attempting to use less plastic, the Mason jar offers us an alternative container. One of the easiest places to reduce plastics is in the kitchen. Glass advocates highlight that glass containers do not leach harmful chemicals into food or drink, glass does not absorb odours or food colours, glass lasts longer, glass can be made of recycled content and can be recycled.

The Mason jar is more that a jar. The versatility of the design of the jar with the metal rim top and screw-top neck make it a container that can easily be adapted for uses beyond holding jam. The standardized design of the product allows innovators to create accessories that turn the jar into a reusable drink cups and soap dispensers.

The attractive appearance of the jar has encourages the consumer go beyond the display in the kitchen cupboard and find more uses for the containers. Mason jars can be seen as hanging lights, centre pieces for weddings, bathroom accessories as well as individual serving containers for oatmeal and salads. It is a container that can easily be repurposed.

Mason jars can be used to freeze foods. Both Kerr and Ball brands of jars have a freeze fill line marked on jars. Remember to thaw slowly and that to leave room for expansion of liquids when frozen.

Rodents and pests can get into dry goods stored in jars. Kombucha and ice tea can be brewed in Mason jars. Mason Jars have lots of uses for The Zero Waste household.

The original use of the Mason jar that allows safe, convenient preserving of food for another day is also incredibly important as we do our part to remedy food waste and food insecurity issues.

The Mason jar is a product designed for a Zero Waste lifestyle.

 More ideas on recipes and Mason jar uses

Salad in a jar
Salad in a jar

Cookie Dough in a jar

Bernardin website

 Fresh Preserving.com

Creative and decorative uses for mason jars