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Cooking up an (eco-friendly) storm

So, you’ve just moved out of home. Or maybe you’ve been living out for a while. You’re in your twenties, time is tight and money is tighter, but you still want to make some changes that will have a real impact on the wellbeing of our planet. Great news! Sustainable choices don’t have to break the bank OR eat into your precious time.

Sound good? Read on for a few tips! You too could end up growing your own veges!

Soft plastics recycling

Soft, “scrunchable” plastics including shopping bags, food packaging and fruit netting can’t be recycled in domestic recycling bins. But they CAN be recycled at your local supermarket! The company REDcycle is just one program that allows you to dispose of your soft plastics (you’d be surprised by how much of the stuff you accumulate in your weekly grocery shops) and turns them into recycled-plastic products including furniture, bollards and signs.

Most supermarkets have a soft plastics recycling bin near the checkout, which makes it easy for you to collect your rubbish and take it with you when you do your groceries. Just make sure you wash out the plastics before you take them to the bin. You can find the your closest REDcycle bin here.

Growing your vege scraps

Food wastage is a huge problem in Australia – in fact, each year we waste around 7.6 million tonnes of food. That’s about 312kg per person. This should be alarming to us, because food waste produces eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions – and also, about 25% of the water used in agriculture to grow food is ultimately wasted on food that is not eaten.

One step everyone can make towards limiting the amount of scraps thrown in the kitchen bin (and ultimately the landfill!) is by regrowing vege scraps. By placing the base of cut vegetables into a shallow saucer of water, you can regrow your vegetables from the comfort of your kitchen window sill! Experiment a little, but this works really well for leafy vegetables such as celery, lettuce and bok choy and bulb vegetables including garlic and spring onion. Check out this helpful blog post on Garden Tech for instructions on how to get your window sill garden patch started today!

Start a compost or worm farm

For the scraps that can’t be regrown, a great option is buying or making a compost or worm farm. There are so many benefits to worm farming. Most importantly, it creates a much better environment for breaking down fruit and vegetable waste. Many other things can be fed to the wormies too - paper, cardboard and bamboo toothbrushes (see above!). Green waste in landfill has to break down anaerobically, which is a much slower process, and creates a massive amount of methane. Starting your own compost bin or worm farm can go a long way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and there are so many options for all different living situations, whether you have a big backyard or a small balcony. Check out some tips and tricks for maintaining a worm farm here, so you can avoid any smelly mishaps.

Starting your own vege patch

Once you’ve mastered the window sill vege scrap growing, you can graduate to growing veges in pots or garden beds! And, even better – if you have your worm farm already thriving, you will be blessed with some of the richest fertilister – worm wee and poo. Your veges will love you for it!

The many environmental benefits of growing your own food includes avoiding carcinogenic pesticides and fertilisers that make their way into our waterways, and reducing the carbon emissions associated with transporting vegetables from farms to supermarkets.

There’s a few things you should consider when starting out as a homegrown vegetable farmer, including the position of the garden and the amount of rainwater and light it will receive.

Joining a community garden

If starting your own vege patch just isn’t possible where you live, another great way to get into gardening is by joining your local community garden. Joining them often involves paying a small fee, but the benefits are enormous. You can learn about growing your own food, meet new people in your suburb and participate in sustainable activities such as composting, worm farming, rainwater recycling and farmer’s markets. Check out this website to find the closest community garden to you!

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