I have been loving videos about minimalism, and waste reduction. I am in no way a minimalist (I mean look at my plant collection hahah), but I enjoy the content and try to incorporate some of the ideas in my own life.
With the recent climate strike and Greta Thunberg making waves, I have been more and more inspired to reduce my waste and have a better impact on the environment.
But as a plant person, plants are constantly on my mind and I am always looking for ways to have more plants, grow better plants, and so on. So when finding ways to reduce my waste I am always looking at ways to do this with my plants.
Composting is something many people do already. Some cities and municipalities already have a compost/ green bin system for collecting kitchen scraps and composting them.
However if you live in an apartment (like I do) or your area does not offer a composting service then you will need to take matters into your own hands.
I recently did some research into apartment composting. Some of the solutions were super expensive (like $300+), but then I found Bokashi systems. Basically it ferments your kitchen scraps and turns part of it into a liquid which can be used (diluted) to fertilize your plants. You then burry the left over bits in top soil so it can breakdown further.
Multiple brands offer "apartment" style options that use only the one container which is great when you don't have a lot of space. The only issue with this could be burying the food scraps after they have fermented. I have a balcony and already have a planter for vegetables so it still works for me, and we have a nearby community garden that I could get a plot in if I wanted. That said, if you have no access to outdoor space it might not work for you.
I have bought the system and will be writing a blog post in the future on how it works. I plan to use the liquid for the indoor plants, and the scraps (along with some worms) for my outdoor planters which I grow my own vegetables in in the summer (I will mention this again later on). I am honestly super excited. I always hated throwing out something I knew could be used in another way.
2. Freezing table scraps
Related to composting, you can also save your food scraps to be used later. This could be holding on to them till you can add them to a compost bin, or keeping them to be used to create vegetable/ meat stock to use later with soups, stews, and other yummy dishes.
This can be done at long as you have a spot to freeze them. If you have space for a deep freeze then you are even more in luck since you can horde a lot and even freeze the stock itself after it has been made. This article from Chatelaine has a great stock recipe that you could use to make yours!
Then once those scraps have been used you can green bin or compost them! A two for one use.
3. Make your own cleaner
Why not use your plants in a way that is also green?! I love making my own cleaner. I combine lemon or orange rind with mint or lavender along with vinegar or other cleaning related products (such a citric acid, lemon juice etc.) in a bottle to create all purpose cleaner, floor cleaner, glass cleaner, and more.
There are loads of YouTube videos and blog posts that go over specific recipes so I won't bother with that here. But just know it is a great way to be a little bit more sustainable.
I grow my own mint and lavender, I purchase lemons and oranges fairly often as is, and the other products can often be purchased in bulk which further reduces environmental impact. Then reusing the spray bottles or other containers I keep them in helps even more. Just a lot of winning for the environment here!
4. Drying Flowers
With this one you're probably going "huh?" Well I love having flowers around, but often times store bought bouquets come in plastic, after having been trucked to the store to be sold. They also die pretty quick and then end up in the trash if you don't have compost. This is why I started drying flowers.
You can keep them as bouquets to decorate with more long term or press them and turn them into art! I have really been enjoying some of the art tutorials on YouTube and many involve dry flowers.
This video from Artsy Madwoman on YouTube shows how to preserve flowers in resin which is super cool and would make such cute gifts for friends and family. Keep in mind though the other products you'd need for any crafts and aim for the more environmentally friendly options when possible!
This isn't the most amazing, over the top way to reduce waste, but it does help and of course it involves plants ;-)
5. Planting native flower species
Whether that be in a garden or a balcony planter, if you have outdoor space plant some native flower species. This isn't exactly to help reduce waste, BUT it does help with the bee population. Native flowering plants are what bees use to pollinate, make honey, and basically survive.
Many people pull out native flowering plants, labeling them "weeds" when these plants are the ones bees and other pollinators love the most. Similar to the next suggestion it won't necessarily reduce waste, but if you like cut flowers you can grow your own native flower species, then dry them out to keep for years (I have some pressed flowers that are 9+ years old!). Every little bit helps really.
6. Growing your own vegetables
Fresh local vegetables are not always super accessible to everyone. For example I live in and city and there are multiple different farmers markets in the summer time selling local produce, and I can reach them all on the city bus. This is not always the case for everyone.
A good way around this if you have outdoor space is to grow your own vegetables. Even if you don't have outdoor space there are some indoor vegetable growing set ups that are great for growing some smaller veggies (such as lettuce, or anything that doesn't get super large).
This means you can have fresh vegetables often and don't need to worry about buying 3 or 4 of something and it going bad. I despise finding mouldy or bad vegetables in my fridge, such a waste of money. It also means your vegetables didn't need to travel through multiple countries in a truck for you to have them. Also they come plastic free!
7. Rain water catchment
Lastly, rain water catchment. This isn't something I have been able to figure out how to do in my particular apartment situation (completely covered balcony, lots of pigeons), but it can be very impactful.
Plants often don't enjoy the chemicals we put in our water and this often means either buying a filter system or buying bottles of filtered water. Although a water filter isn't as bad as buying bottled water it often isn't great especially if you're somewhere where you wouldn't need it for the water to be potable.
Enter rain water catchment. Rain water is great for your plants and means you don't need to buy filters or bottles. Sure you can also leave your tap water out for a couple days to have some of the chemicals dissipate, but that doesn't always work the best. Rain water is a great alternative. Use it on indoor and outdoor plants a like. Especially easy if you have eaves troughs.
Well friends, I hope you enjoyed my suggestions. If you have anymore to add then throw them in the comments. I will do an update on the Bokashi system in a few months.