How to Recycle in the Garden: Now You Can Grow Even Greener

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How to Recycle in the Garden

If you have a garden and are looking for ways to go green, then congratulations! You have a one-stop recycle spot right outside your door. Not only can your garden be a source of cheaper, prettier, and tastier food than you find in the supermarket, it can also help you keep food scraps and household waste out of the landfill. Here are just a few tips on how to recycle in the garden.


According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food and yard waste compose 24% of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream and cost taxpayers over $1 billion per year for disposal. Why not instead help your own household economy and reuse those leftovers?

Combining kitchen and yard scraps with a bulking agent, such as wood chips or saw dust, and then allowing the mixture to mature creates humus, a dark brown or black soil that, among many benefits, promotes higher yields of higher quality vegetables in the garden, and works as a natural disease and pest repellent.

Most food scraps and yard waste can be pitched into the compost bin, but that’s not all you can compost. Household waste like cardboard rolls, coffee grounds and filters, clean paper, dryer lint, and fireplace ashes will also do the trick. Click here for a more complete list of compostable household items. Also, be sure to study the list of items that should never be composted. Among other things, pet waste, fats and oils, and diseased or pest-ridden plants should not be recycled in the garden and can actually harm your compost and negate all your hard work.

Don’t stop with recycling scraps. You can also repurpose old wood or a large, plastic laundry container for use as your compost bin. Find more tips on composting here.

Recycling Household Waste

Why buy containers for gardening use when you buy plenty for other uses all the time? Wash out old yogurt cups and reuse them to start seeds. You can also start seeds with old, folded up toilet paper rolls, newspaper, and even, for small seeds, eggshells nestled in their cartons. Even better, paper and eggshells are both biodegradable, and can be buried along with the seedling when it comes time to transplant to the garden.

Plastic milk jugs are another ubiquitous and handy item for the garden. Cut off the tops and use them for storage of bird seeds, granular fertilizers, or scraps bound for composting. You can also use translucent milk jugs to protect tender seedlings if you are worried about a late freeze or a bug invasion. Simply cut the bottom two or three inches off of the jug, remove the cap, and place it over the plant to create a shelter.

Recycling Water

Excess water left over after use in bathtubs, sinks, dishwashers and washing machines is called “gray water” and can be collected in buckets or milk jugs for easy reuse in the garden.

Joe Lamp’l from the Do It Yourself Network even recommends reusing air conditioner condensation to water your garden. Air conditioners pull the moisture from a humid home and send it outside in a constant drip. Plant hardy plants near the air conditioner run off point, or place a container under the run off to collect the condensation for later use.

Gardeners are a resourceful bunch, and there are as many ways to recycle in the garden as there are vegetables to grow. Get outside and get creative. Now you that you’ve gotten a good start, you are sure to come up with some tips of your own on how to recycle in the garden.