It's the Little Things
Self-sustainability has always been an important value to me. If I can reuse, recycle, or find another use for something, then that's one less thing I have to buy. This is a point of pride for me, and it keeps life simpler on the farm.
I hate waste. It feels immoral and selfish to me, but I participate in it just like everyone else does. No one completely lives a waste-free life, although there are those who are trying. Most people are familiar with large-scale, expensive (sometimes) changes such as buying an electric car or converting your home's energy to solar. However, I have found that many of the little things I do each day can really add up to reducing waste, saving money, and ultimately - living a better life. I hope to share here a few practical suggestions for second-uses and recycling as it relates to our life on the farm.
This is, by far, one of the easiest, most common ways to reduce waste. I used to be a composting purist, meticulously removing tea bags, paper tags, metal staples, etc., from my compost. That was until I discovered thermophilic composting and put the Texas heat to work for me. Now, just about everything (except plastic) goes into the compost bin. Don't have a garden? Ask a neighbor who does. Most people pay for their trash service so it makes sense to reduce the amount of items thrown away.
(Note: I do NOT compost human waste in my thermophilic compost pile although it can be used for that. Anyone in the Austin area heard of Dillo Dirt? That's what it is.)
I discovered these beauties a few months ago and started making them myself as an alternative to plastic wrap (which is not only a single-use product but also a real pain in the ass). Made from cotton, I coat these with melted beeswax, coconut oil, jojoba oil, and pine tree resin. You could make them from old clothing if you wanted, or if you're not the "Do It Yourself" type, they are available for sale in my Etsy store. They are reusable, anti-microbial, money-saving, and, I think, quite beautiful.
And when I'm finished with them, they go into the compost.
There is a lot of information out there about how to use old eggshells but I have found that many of them require you to do ridiculous things in order for it to work - only break the eggshells a tiny bit on one end, clean the eggshells thoroughly, etc. Nope. Don't have time for that. I throw mine in a sealed container kept in the freezer to kill bacteria, crush them up, then pour them into the planting holes for my tomato transplants. This provides added calcium and helps to prevent blossom-end rot. Read more about it here.
Or, I compost them.
This is a picture of the cardboard I have accumulated as "trash" in one week. Just one week. Instead of throwing it away, I use this cardboard as weed control and mulch in the garden. It works great, decomposes, and makes my life easier. Recently, I used cardboard for a technique called Sheet Layering on my peach trees. Put those Amazon boxes to work for you!
When we know better, we do better. What are your tips and tricks for reducing waste? Share in the comments below!