“Waste not, Want not” was the adage I grew up with for economical reasons. Today that motto holds true for protecting our ecosystem by reusing items rather than tossing them in the garbage to become part of a waste landfill. The following are some ways to reuse everyday throwaways. Children can be taught these principles from an early age.
Don’t throw away that old gardening hose, reinvent it. Punch holes in it and use it as a dripper hose for irrigation or cut in shorter lengths to place down the center of a strawberry jar for easier watering. You can also use hose cuttings to cover wire when staking a tree to protect the bark from the wire.
Old newspapers, not the glossy pages, can be used to cover the soil in your beds. Place mulch on top of them. They will help control weeds and moisture besides giving additional food to the worms.
Consider these recyclables for placing in the bottom of planters to help with drainage: packing peanuts, rocks or pebbles, used tea bags or broken clay flower pots. Larger pieces of Styrofoam, plastic soda/water bottles with caps on or used plastic flower pots can be used to take up room in a large pot so less soil is needed making the pot weigh less and easier to transport.
Make use of old pantyhose by cutting into strips and use as ties to secure plants to stakes. You can also pull over watermelons or squash on the vine to protect them from pests.
Clean food jars make good containers for storing dried seeds. They can also be decorated to use for vases when sharing flowers from your garden with friends.
Patio containers can be made from recycled coffee, juice or paint cans, the larger the can the better. Clean, decorate and punch drainage holes in the bottom. The large black plastic pots the plants are in when you purchase them can be painted and decorated to look like stone pots. Floral baskets or a small orange crate make a pretty planter to hold small flower pots or line with plastic to use as a bedding container. No longer used toys, such as a dump truck or wagon, can make an accent piece in the flower bed.
Be inventive and before tossing any products, stop and think of a new use for you throwaways. You will be proud and gain satisfaction in doing your part for the ecosystem.
Jane Toller, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service