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National Allotment Week : Grow Your Own To Boost Your Zero-Waste Efforts

We’re surrounded by single-use plastic, from the foods we buy at the supermarket to cleaning products and even the tea we drink. For this reason, it can be overwhelming to undertake a mission to eliminate them completely!

Many are turning to growing their own herbs, fruits, and vegetables this summer. While this is a widely recognised way to cut down on wasteful food packaging, innovative gardeners are using this to replace single-use plastic and waste in other areas of our lives.

 

Here, we discuss the best ways you can cut down on plastic with your own growing garden.

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Regent's Park Allotment Garden, Image: https://www.royalparks.org.uk

Growing your own food and drinks

If you have a herb garden or an allotment, growing your own ingredients and foods is a no-brainer. You can buy yourself some starter seeds, or alternatively, if you’ve recently got your weekly shop in, you can repurpose some of the seeds or inedible parts of your herbs, fruits, and vegetables to get your garden going. The hard ends of carrots and leeks that you don’t eat can be used to grow a brand-new vegetable, while seeds from strawberries, apples, and watermelons can grow new fruits.

 

Leftover sweetcorn kernels, bell peppers, tomatoes, and garlic bulbs can be planted in soil or water to grow new plants, which is a great option if you don’t get through all your groceries – waste not, want not! Don’t forget to stock up on compost bags so you can keep your garden in tip-top condition.

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Camellia Sinensis, Image: https://www.lovethegarden.com/uk-en

If, like us, you love nothing better than a good brew, you’ll know that tea bags can be incredibly wasteful, and some contain plastic. Herbal teas are so easy to cultivate yourself, and you can even experiment with making your own flavours and concoctions. Camellia sinensis, the tea plant, is the fastest and most reliable way to grow a classic English breakfast tea, if that’s your favourite.

Waste-free gift wrapping

Gift wrapping is one of our most wasteful activities in life. Many of us go to painstaking lengths to wrap presents perfectly, maybe even including a gift bag and some colourful tissue paper, only for most of it to be ripped to shreds in seconds. Some fancier wrapping papers, like those that include foil decoration, can’t be recycled.

What if we told you that you could make your own in a few simple steps from old scraps of paper and receipts you have lying around your house? Using a few items that you likely already have at home, including a blender, cloths, rolling pins, and a flat dish or pan, you can DIY your own paper!

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Next is the fun part – decorating the paper. You can turn some of your plants, like beetroots, carrots, and blackberries, into paint pigment to decorate the wrapping paper to your heart’s content. Finish off your wrapping work with a dried or fresh sprig of lavender for a zero-waste, personalised gift wrapping that your friend will never forget!

Freshen up your home

When it comes to home maintenance, there are so many ways to reduce plastic waste. Homemade cleaning solutions are growing in popularity, with a wealth of tutorials available online. Thanks to their astringent and odour-beating properties, white vinegar and lemon are an amazing combination for a surface cleaner. They also work great together in a bowl to act as a natural air freshener. No more energy and plastic-wasting plug-ins or ozone-threatening aerosols.

If you want to take your sustainability a step further and avoid buying plastic bottles of vinegar, you can make your own! You can use a culture called Mother of Vinegar to kickstart the process; ingredients that come from your garden, like fermented fruit juice or apple juice; or leftover beer or wine.

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You can also experiment with fruit leftovers, like orange peels, in a simmer pot to add an irresistible and sustainable new scent into your home. Sprigs of your fresh lavender in a pot of water dotted around your bedroom creates the perfect soothing aroma for a great night’s sleep. Don’t forget to brighten up your rooms with your own freshly picked, brightly coloured flowers!

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Image: Marine Conservation Society

Plastic waste is a pressing issue. Only a third of plastics are recycled in the UK, which means the remaining millions of tonnes end up in landfills and our oceans. While it’s difficult to completely eliminate single-use plastic from our lives until the laws around single-use plastics are strengthened, there are steps we can take to reduce our own consumption and waste. Who knew that you could do so much more than just grow your own foods and flowers with a herb garden?

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