c Sustainability Challenge on an Olympic Scale | Garden, Tea, Cakes, (Books) and Me

Sustainability Challenge on an Olympic Scale

Composting - my Gold, Silver and Bronze bins
There is no disputing that one of the most amazing sporting events in my lifetime is just days away - London 2012 Olympics. Coca-Cola one of the official sponsors of London 2012 have launched an amazing competition for bloggers, a chance to win tickets to the Olympics, with their Coca-Cola Olympic Games Sustainability Challenge. Coco-Cola is working hard with London 2012 to create a sustainable games, and Reducing Waste.  

Did you know they will help visitors to the Games recycle their empty packaging by promoting and encouraging recycling. They’ve helped LOCOG to design and create an easy-to-use recycling bin system, and will be recycling all clear plastic at the Games – whether or not it’s from Coca‑Cola product packaging.

Wherever possible, they will use recycled materials for all their staff uniforms, licensed merchandise and merchandising equipment.

So, how am I doing my bit to Reducing Waste. Well this challenge has made me stop and think, I realise that actually I do quite a bit that is now habit or routine. Composting, recycling of newspapers, tetra paks and water filters. I also realise that quite a few products from the house or weekly shopping are recycled or reused in my garden. It may not be on an Olympic scale but if we all work together we can make a difference, and this is my contribution.
Plastic Drink Bottles
Plastic bottles make great mini cloches in the garden for young plants, just cut the bottom off and pop over the plant. You can even choose to unscrew the bottle top on warmer days to give ventilation. I find them particularly good in early Spring to bring on my salads. 
I am also re-using a plastic bottle in the greenhouse with a special nozzle for watering plants, my niece's favourite item in the greenhouse!

Margarine Containers / Food Tubs
I re-use these for storing items in the freezer, or for items as they are defrosting. You can also use them as pots for growing seeds in. I also use empty family size yogurt pots, turned upside down they make great mini greenhouses for pots.

Toilet Rolls
The cardboard centre from toilet rolls make great plant pots, I re-used them this year for my peas and french beans. I planted the young plants straight into my raised beds, the roots then grow through the cardboard which then naturally rots away.

Washing Liquid Dosing Balls / Tops
Any gardener knows the hazards of sticks in the garden, used for staking plants, or holding protective netting. Here is a simple but clever re-use for washing liquid bottles or dosing balls by popping them on the top of canes or sticks. So no unexpected pokes in the eye and also a great way of holding netting up and protecting my valuable treasure of blueberries.

Being on a water meter I am always conscious on how much water is being used or wasted. My fruit and vegetables will not grow without water, so when nature does not supply rain (no problem with that at the moment!) I rely on water I have collected. I have a water butt connected to the down pipe of the house, I also have another water butt near to the vegetable raised beds. But the only way to fill it up at the moment is by manually attaching a hose pipe to the main water butt and decanting the water. 
The plan is to eventually lift the slab path at the rear of the flower bed and run a permanent hose pipe to connect the two water butts. That way the bottom butt (ooh er) tops up automatically. Well that's the plan for the future, I may need to get some extra muscle in to help though!
Venetian Blinds
Earlier this month my parents had replaced an old venetian blind, and were going to take it to the local waste/recycling centre. Being a gardener I am always in need of plant labels, and what an opportunity all these slats presented to me. So a pair of scissors and an hour later, I had hundreds of ready to use plant labels. I guess I had better get sewing more seeds!
Polystyrene Packaging
You know the stuff any electrical or white goods you buy comes surrounded by it. But what to do with it? Here is my answer, break it up and add it as drainage for potting plants. It also works well if you have a very large pot to help bulk out the compost.

Here is a Succulent plant happily growing in half a broken dish!
For the future I want to grow even more of my own fruit and vegetables, using all my own compost and collected water. I get so annoyed at all the  packaging that surrounds fresh food in supermarkets. It's time pressure was applied to introducing stricter packaging legislation, to reduce this mountain of extra waste. I know what's next on my to do list, an email to some in power.

I'm not quite up to zero-waste blogger Karen Cannards standards, but I know I'm heading down the right path. So before I throw anything away I will think hard to how it can either be re-used, recycled or up-cycled.
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  1. Excellent suggestions! I also use shredded newspaper to put under my strawberries rather than buying straw. It will biodegrade or can be left to dry out and then recycled. I always use a plastic basin for washing dishes then use the cooled dish water to water my flower beds. The dish soap acts as an insecticide.

    Thanks for the great tips and letting us see more of your lovely garden!

    Debs : )

    1. Thanks Debs now thats a great tip about the shredded newspaper for the strawberries, love the fact that it can still be recycled once it dries out.


  2. Some fabulous tips. Thank you, and I love the reuse examples around the garden, especially those venetian blinds.

  3. Thanks Karen. The venetian blinds labels are very useful indeed for keeping track of lots of seedlings.



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