Monday, March 1, 2021


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Home and Garden Tips


This week I will cover upcycling or repurposing in place of sending items to a landfill.

Background on landfills and curbside recycling. The landfill system is slowly going away although there is a long way to go. The challenge is much harder in rural areas but as technology becomes more available the landfill will go the way of the dinosaur. In the meantime, we can make small differences as individuals and larger ones collectively.

The most basic solid-waste landfill operation costs between $70-$200/ton to operate. In the end you have not gotten rid of anything but simply hid it underground. The average home produces about a half ton of waste per month. Some landfill operations at the high-end collect methane gas created by decomposition and sell it as heating fuel. Even then, this process only trades one type of pollution for another. Landfills almost everywhere are required to place a liner in the ground to prevent leaching out of chemicals. In the end, a landfill is still just hiding waste and leaving it for the next generation to deal with.

Curbside recycling programs are popular in urban areas but challenges remain. Every year these challenges are better met and the day of zero waste will happen eventually. Challenges are processing, storage, and logistics of moving recycled materials when those materials cost less than the recycling service itself. Recycling programs need to be sustainable without adding additional problems to the local environment, such as rat infestations and leaching of chemicals from processing.

One problem that emerged a couple of years ago was a glut of materials. Recycling programs could not resell any of what they collected and some residential programs went bankrupt as they had to pay more for storage than they collected in fees.

Reuse of items. Consider reuse of the following:

Paint

• Paints of the same type (such as water-based latex) can be 

mixed together and used as a primer in places which will not 

be seen anyway — such as the back side of a shed or a subfloor. 

A subfloor will last longer if painted or sealed.

• For other types of paint (such as oil-based) check the label 

to make sure they can be combined with paints of the same 

type. Clear sealers will not mix well and it is not recommended 

to do so as you could cause a chemical reaction.

Barrels, bins and other items

• Containers of different types and even things like washing 

machine barrels can be made into garden planters. You cannot 

safely reuse containers used for oil or oil-based products. You 

can repurpose glass and clear plastic food containers as 

storage containers.

Doors, windows and other home-improvement waste

• Doors can be used to make compost bins.

• Windows can be used to make cold frames and mini 

greenhouses.

• Use old lumber to make garden stakes.

• Old sinks can be sanitized as used as non-traditional 

planters, or sealed and used as in-ground reservoirs for water 

pumps in garden features such as small fountains. No one will 

see it and you won’t have to buy one more thing.

• Sinks can also be hooked into your watering system and used 

as a vegetable-washing station or fish-washing station for 

those who fish.

Before you toss it out

• Scrap copper pipe can be used to keep ponds clear and to 

make deep-water fishing lures.

• Broken hoses can be repaired or cut down into pieces to 

be used in emergency plumbing repairs of pipes over 1 inch in 

diameter.

• Old fencing can be used for growing beans or as structure for 

vining roses.

• Old lawn mowers can have the motors removed and the 

bodies used as push carts in the garden.

Alternatives to creating waste

• Go paperless on your monthly statements.

• Turn plastic bags into art. Some people crochet bags into 

larger bags.

• Make old clothes into rags or doormats.

• Cook smaller amounts and reduce food waste. Food waste is 

the number one thing in landfills.

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