I love Permaculture because it really gets you thinking about all the ways you can use something more than once. Putting old stuff to good use is a great way to save money and save the planet from more land fill. It’s also at the very core of Permaculture because we believe in caring for the earth so any reduction in waste is very good thing for our planet.
Waste management is a huge and expensive issue for our throw-away society. At our place we try to live by the ‘avoid, re-use, recycle’ principle and are always looking at ways to re-use what we have or what others might be throwing out. There are so many things people throw away that could easily be used again, all it takes is a bit of imagination and being okay with somebody else’s second-hand stuff.
Some of our most simple ideas have been made using second hand material and we have collected lots of pre-loved items. Like our vertical garden made from stormwater pipes, chicken coop from second hand timber, garden tools, pavers, worm tubes from terracotta pipes, roof sheeting, timber box, garden furniture, raised vegetable beds from old fence palings and a seed raising table from an old barbeque. Even some of our soil has come from someone else’s green waste.
I also make soap moulds out of milk cartons and use them to grow seedlings and protect young plants from predators and they’re great for storing leftovers in the freezer. They aren’t entirely plastic free but they can be recycled and are mostly converted into high quality office grade paper. One milk carton makes about 5 pieces of paper but they can also be converted into egg cartons, envelopes and cardboard packaging. Take about 20,000 of them (that’s close to a tonne) and save 385 litres of oil, 4,100 kW of electricity, 31,780 litres of water, 4 cubic metres of landfill and 13 trees! And you’ve made a stack of paper.
We tend to buy milk in cartons for a number of reasons mainly because I can only buy unhomogenised organic milk in cartons and like most of my food, I want my milk to be as unadulterated as possible. It’s illegal to buy raw milk in Australia unless I have my own cow or find a supplier of ‘bath milk’ or find myself a herd share arrangement. So carton milk it is especially now I’ve learnt to make my own cheese :)!
A couple of months ago when we got our two new chickens, we decided that we needed to tidy up their feeding area because the native bush rats were tucking in to the spilt grain. We needed a quick, simple and cheap solution and found one in the form of a couple of plastic milk bottles. They were perfect for what I had in mind and were a good size, with a handle.
First I gave them a good wash so they didn’t stink, dried them out and cut a hole with a pair of scissors on the side opposite the handle. I screwed the cap on so nothing could fall in through the top opening, twisted a piece of pliable wire into an ‘S’ shaped hook and attached it to the handle. Then filled the container with our chook’s favourite organic layer mash just below the bottom of the hole so it didn’t spill out.
Using the hook, it was hung on the cage at just the right height for our chooks to put their head comfortably in to the hole.
And there you have a very simple cheap chook feeder that keeps the grain off the ground, reduces spills, is easy to fill and can be simply stored in a bin overnight.
I mentioned before about cheese making and I’m very excited to report that I’ve just returned from an awesome cheese making course and now know how to make feta, camembert, mascapone, ricotta, sour cream and guark. I’m going to tell you more about that soon but stay tuned for my next post on pecans.