Reuse is more important than recycling

Friday 6-22-2012

I know this is a little off the topic of gardening, but how we deal with waste really should be part of our garden system, especially since a lot of our waste stems from food. I am a huge fan of not buying or consuming something we don’t need in the first place, and if we do, it should be well thought out as to what the life span of the item will be, and how it will be reused, repurposed, or recycled. In permaculture we take the old adage reduce, reuse, and recycle to a much higher level. This is from a couple of permaculture schools in Australia, and a few individual contributors. I hope they don’t mind me re-printing the information here. I think it is too good not to share.


Resist, Refuse, Reduce, Redistribute (share), Re-use, Retrofit,

Repair, Recycle, Refurbish, Restore, Regenerate, Rebuild and Redesign.


Below is my permaculture design course homework assignment.


For 5 items made from different materials, suggest re-use and then various options for recycling in home or community.


Baskets woven used: Kitchen utensil holder, bathroom & office organizers

*Compost at home


Bows: Re-use on other gifts

*If paper, can compost at home


Brown bags: Lunch, gift bags

*Compost at home


Cardboard boxes: Sheet mulching

*Compost at home, or at the local recycling center.


Dog cage used: Chicken emergency room

*There is a local metal recycler who will take metal and pay you for it.


Egg cartons from neighbors: Put your homegrown eggs in the containers

*Compost at home for cardboard, plastic egg cartons can be recycled through my refuse company.


I’m good on egg cartons for a while. I reuse the cartons, until they get dirty.


Gift bags: Re-use for gifts

*Compost at home for paper


Glass jars: Drinking glasses, pen holders, vases

*My refuse company recycles glass.


                                                                                          Homemade Dressing

Glass water bottles with screw cap: Homemade dressing

*My refuse company recycles glass.


Milk crates: Bookshelves, and stackable storage

*Cannot be recycled, or at least I do not have a place at present, but you should be able to find a use, or someone else who may need it.


Newspaper: Wrapping paper (My wife’s grandmother wrapped gifts in the funny pages. Those pages had color!), sheet mulching

*Compost at home


Plastic bags: Can liners (although it is best to try to avoid these all together by bringing your own cloth bags to stores)

*Wal-Mart has a recycling bin for plastic bags


Plastic rigid sealed containers: Kitchen scrap holder (This is good because no fruit flies until it gets outside to the chickens), Harvest containers

*My refuse company recycles plastic.


Kitchen scrap holder                                                            Harvest containers used daily


Plastic zip-lock bags: Lettuce containers for fridge (keeps lettuce much longer if sealed), fresh herb containers for fridge, can be used to preserve fruits and vegetables in the freezer

*Wal-Mart has a recycling bin for plastic bags


Spice containers: Dry your own herbs and use empty spice containers

*I do not have a source to recycle these, but why would you, I just keep using them.


Towels: Rags

*Compost at home if cotton or natural fibers


T-shirts: Rags

*Compost at home if cotton or natural fibers


Wooden crates & pallets: Chicken coop repair or construction

*Hugelkultur, compost, firewood


Wooden paper towel holder: Towel holder (It used to hold paper towels, now it holds a cotton towel to dry hands)

*Hugelkultur, compost, firewood


We recently stopped buying paper towels, I don’t miss them.


Envelopes: Seed containers

*Compost at home

Be Sociable, Share!


Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!