What is Zero-Waste Gardening?

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“Zero-waste” is not just another buzz phrase — the zero-waste wave has been around for generations. And, with ever-worsening world climate change, it’s quickly gaining momentum.

There are lots of places in your life where you can apply a zero-waste lifestyle, but you’re here to learn what zero-waste gardening is, so we will get right into it.  

The definition of zero-waste gardening is this: an eco-friendly way of gardening focusing on the conservation of all resources. It ensures that nothing goes to landfills and incinerators, and that there are zero-waste discharges to land, water, or air.  

Zero-waste gardening prevents several situations and protects our world for future generations. These situations are:

  1. Greenhouse gas emissions caused by decomposing waste in landfills.
  2. Climate change, resulting from greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Depletion of the Earth’s natural resources. 

A zero-waste system also means cutting off the use of chemical substances like pesticides and plastics, since they do not support the Earth’s regeneration.

So, how is this kind of zero-waste management system possible?

1. Refuse 

Step one to creating a zero-waste system in your garden is preventing waste from getting in.

Reject Non-Reusable Packing Materials  

If your local store packs your gardening supplies in plastic bags, carry a reusable bag. If need be, you can make a bag from an old t-shirt. 

Check out this video to learn how:

When it comes to buying nursery plants, skip anything in plastic materials and packaging. Look for pots made from sustainable materials — like coconut fiber and manure.

If You Don’t Need It, Say No

Yes, coupons for gardening supplies from your local store are almost always a great deal. However, the truth is that you may not always need them.

For instance, getting two pairs of gardening gloves for the price of one is awesome, but do you need both?

2. Reduce

Next, reduce your consumption of natural resources and only buy what is crucial to your gardening projects.  

Only Purchase What Is Necessary

Before making any purchases, evaluate your needs against your wants. You’ll realize that much of your gardening needs can be achieved without buying extra tools.

Talk to your neighbors about sharing, and let them use some of the tools you own in exchange for freely using their tools.

Grow your produce from scrap — vegetables like celery and scallions can regenerate even with the stem sliced off.  

Instead of buying nursery plants, get plant divisions from friends and neighbors. Attend plant swap events in your community, or find individuals looking to swap plants on websites like PlantSwap.org.

Alternatively, join a plant swap community on social media. Try searching #plantswap on Instagram or “plant swap” on Facebook. 

Buy Quality Gardening Supplies

Promote zero-waste in your garden by investing in high-quality tools that have a long life. This will help prevent you from sending worn-out or broken tools to landfills and incinerators.  

At Clean Air Gardening, we advocate for zero-waste and we don’t compromise on the quality of gardening tools and products that we supply to our customers.

Here are the test scores of our product, the Spin Bin Compost Tumbler, according to the National Home Gardening Club — a community of gardeners:

waste, what is zero-waste
Image source: Clean Air Gardening

Reduce Your Water Consumption

Although over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, only about 0.3% is usable by humans. 

Worse, a study showed that increasing extraction of groundwater is threatening the sustainability of freshwater ecosystems.

As an Earth-conscious zero-waste gardener, reduce your consumption of fresh clean water.

Capture rainwater that flows from the roof into the downspout with our Garden Watersaver Downspout Rainwater Collector, and use it in your gardening. Or, use greywater from your kitchen by investing in a quality greywater recycling system.      

Always water your plants early in the morning or late in the evening — this will prevent the water from evaporating too fast. Mulching also helps in retaining soil moisture.  

3. Reuse

The definition of “reuse” is to lengthen the life of an item, and this is essential in a zero-waste garden. 

Try repairs instead of disposing of your broken gardening equipment in a landfill. And, instead of treating old equipment as waste, donate or resell to another gardener in your community.

Keep in mind that zero-waste gardening requires some creativity. 

Find ways to use old and broken plastic packaging and materials without burning or throwing them away. For instance, reuse broken watering cans by turning them into planters.

4. Compost

Like we mentioned, zero-waste means putting natural resources back into the environment. This is what the composting cycle helps you to achieve. 

Composting enriches your garden with nutrients. It is a natural resource recovery method to prevent waste from going to a landfill. 

Compostable waste is turned into a nutritious soil conditioner, and this is then used in the bioremediation of brownfield sites.

It’s easy to get started with home composting for a zero-waste garden. All you need is a compost bin, some outdoor space, and time. 

The composting cycle works on one principle — allowing for microorganisms to break down waste materials into nutrient-rich food for your garden.

It comes with two main benefits:

  • Eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers
  • Takes a load of waste off your hands 

Healthy compost will have a mix of carbon-rich items — coming from brown waste — and nitrogen-rich items — coming from green waste.

Here are a few examples:

Brown items (Carbon-rich)
Green items (Nitrogen-rich)
Dry leaves Fresh grass clippings
Dry grass Vegetable peelings
Paper and cardboard Non-animal food scraps
Dead plants Teabags
Wood branches Coffee grounds

When it comes to cardboard and paper waste, it’s best to stay away from the colored and glossy variety. They could contain unsafe materials.

What’s more, the waste you set aside for composting won’t stink up your home. We have a strong, dishwasher safe, stainless steel compost pail that can hold 6 gallons of waste. This pail comes with a set of dual filters that traps odors.

zero waste
Brushed Stainless Steel .6 Gallon Compost Pail
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Also, check our variety of compost bins and other equipment available that will make home composting easier.

Spin Bin Tumbling Composter
$199.99 $179.00
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5. Recycle

Recycling is also an important step to achieving your goal of an efficient zero-waste management system. 

You can recycle most waste from the garden — like hedge cuttings that you are unable to compost.

As for the plastics you don’t reuse, ensure that you are recycling correctly. Otherwise, they’ll only end up in landfills. 

There are three basic rules for recycling with a goal of zero waste:

  • The items you are recycling should be clean  
  • Your load should be dry
  • There should be no loose plastic bags or bagged recyclables

Learn how to recycle right — visit the recycling and waste management website for your local community, or use resources like Recycle Right.  

Begin Your Zero-Waste Gardening Journey Today

Anytime you send waste materials to a landfill, it contributes to the greenhouse gas emissions in the air that threaten the environment or human health. 

Zero-waste gardening helps you reduce waste — you get to save resources by means of responsible production, consumption, and recycling. 

At Clean Air Gardening, zero-waste is a goal we take to heart. We understand your desire to apply eco-friendly gardening and waste zero resources. 

This is why we give you the right resources and tools you need to achieve your zero-waste goal, while you get to become part of a tight-knit zero-waste community that keeps you motivated. 

Give us a visit.

Featured image: Pixabay by Iris_Bravo

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