We recently chatted to Andy Baxter, MD of Internet Gardener who shares his advice on how to be more sustainable in the garden.
British summertime is officially here, and people across the country are making the most of their outdoor spaces. However, while the particularly hot weather has been welcomed by many of us, it’s worth remembering that this may be due to a larger, more worrying trend – global warming.
In October 2018, leading climate scientists released a report as part of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which announced that we only have 12 years left to prevent a climate change catastrophe. Given this concerning prediction, it’s important that we all do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint.
One area that all of us could tackle is our outdoor spaces. The green-fingered among us know the personal benefit of planting and pruning, but have not yet explored all the ways we could be more sustainable in our gardens. From reducing water wastage to upcycling old materials, there is a myriad of ways to reduce our garden waste.
Upcycle broken or old household items
One of the easiest ways to reduce our waste in the garden is to re-use items that we would usually throw away. Plant pots, for example, may break over time due to frost or by accident. Rather than simply driving to your nearest garden centre to buy a replacement, consider finding creative ways to replace it with old items around the home.
Cardboard from kitchen rolls, for instance, can act as a biodegradable seedling pot. Similarly, old pieces of newspaper can be fashioned into a plant pot using an origami-style technique. Using non-recyclable plastic containers can also be a clever way of reducing waste, as their relatively robust nature allows them to be used over, and over again.
Moreover, you can reuse your broken plant pots elsewhere in the garden. For instance, you can put them in larger pots to protect the soil beneath from critters and other invasions, or perhaps stick them in the ground and use them as labels for the seeds you’ve planted. You can even get creative and make a mosaic with your children – the choices are endless.
Reduce unnecessary water wastage
The UK sees on average 885 millimetres (33.7 inches) of rain every year. However, most of us do very little to collect this water, and instead, we use hundreds of litres of water in our gardens to keep our plants in top condition.
An easy way to become more environmentally-friendly in the garden is to reduce unnecessary water wastage. This includes watering our plants the correct amount but also consists of harvesting rainwater to use periodically throughout the year.
Introducing a rain barrel, or water butts, in your garden is perhaps the simplest way to begin collecting rainwater. Spring is usually the best time to do so, as the relatively high level of rainfall means that plenty of rainwater can be collected to take care of your lawn and plants over the coming months. Not only will you be saving the planet with an eco-friendly watering system, but you’ll also be saving money on your water bills.
Sourcing sustainable materials
To be truly sustainable in the garden, it’s important to use environmentally-friendly materials. Whether it’s a chair, table or bench, many retailers now sell furniture that is both ethical and stylish. However, not all materials are sourced with the environment in mind.
Wood, for example, is big business in parts of the world, and illegal logging has endangered certain wood types like Brazilian mahogany and teak. The demand for wood is a primary cause of deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest and has destroyed unique ecosystems in the process.
It is therefore important to find garden furniture that is produced with the environment in mind. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), for example, has a certification system that provides internationally recognised standards for responsible forestry, and purchasing furniture that is approved by them is a good start.
It’s also worth looking out for recycled-plastic furniture. Often produced using plastic composites, this material has a much smaller carbon footprint that non-recycled alternatives in the long-term.
Our planet is beautiful, and it’s important to protect it all costs. We can all do our bit by making small changes in our daily lives, and our outdoor spaces are the perfect places to make a start. Whether it’s finding creative ways to recycle old household items, avoiding water wastage or choosing sustainable outdoor furniture, there are countless ways we can tend to our gardens while also taking care of the environment. In 2019, this is what having ‘green fingers’ should truly mean.
Image credits: Unsplash