In honor of America Recycles Day on November 15, we’re going to talk about the various ways you can reuse items to reduce waste! While sending items to recycling facilities is usually the preferred method to recycle all of those boxes, bags, and plastics we use in our lives, we do know that not everyone has access to such places. Whether you’re out on the farm or homestead, or smack dab in the middle of a city or town, there are many ways to reuse the packaging materials and products that New Country Organics has!
We’re going to talk about the most common form of container we package NCO feeds in: the brown compostable paper bag. You can always cut up NCO bags (or go whole hog) and use them for kindling, but there are other less destructive ways to reuse them.
If you have a fair amount of NCO bags, you can staple or glue them together to form a makeshift tarp, which you could attach to your chicken coop, or any pens, to keep the wind away from your animals. NCO bags are pretty resilient to weight (they are carrying 35, 40, and 50 lbs of feed after all), and as such, would make great trash bags to have around your property. You can even line trash bins with them!
Note: We do have Blue and Green bags that are a plastic-type material, and should NOT be used as kindling nor composted.
The tarp and trash bag ideas we mentioned earlier would work great with these bags! Additionally, you could use NCO blue/green bags for makeshift tree sacks, to get your trees growing along prior to planting. You could even use them to grow potatoes in: Start by rolling the bag down, poke a few holes in the bottom, add dirt, and as the potatoes grow up, roll the bag up and add more dirt! One last idea, if you want to show your New Country Organics bag swag off, you can sew/tape the bags together into table or chair covers!
If you’ve ordered with us before, chances are you’ve received one of our cardboard boxes, or perhaps even many of them. As one of the most versatile reusables that we send out, cardboard boxes can first and foremost be used as...a box! Why bother going out to buy a box, when you’ve got a lovely New Country Organics box staring back at you? But let's say you don’t need another box, and are considering just trashing it instead…Hold your horses! There’s a bevy of little (and big) things you can do with just one cardboard box.
For starters, you can cut your box into smaller pieces or strips, and use those for signs/labels, kindling, or even use them as spacers for drawers and cabinets.
If you’re looking to save money (and not waste plastic on planters) you can duct tape cardboard pieces together, put some plastic liner (like the kind we use on our pallets!) in this new planter box, poke some holes in the bottom, and presto! A cheaper alternative planter for your smaller plants! Plus, you can do the same setup without the plastic, and use it as a starter planter to put straight into the ground.
If you add a nice cushion/pillow/bed to one of our cardboard boxes, you’ve got yourself a nice pet bed (which you can always decorate up and fiddle with to make an even more awesome bed).
Mayhaps you have issues with weeds in your small outdoor gardens? If you put down larger pieces of cardboard (the plainer/less inky the better), wet said cardboard, and then top it off with whatever mulch or soil you’re using, you can cut down on weed growth in your gardens!
Additionally, you can use weighted cardboard to kill off any unwanted grasses on your property that are giving you issues!
On a final cardboard note, there are so many homemade projects you can do with cardboard, ranging from projectors and picture frames to entire playhouses, all made with cardboard pieces and various household items. Just take a quick look for them, and you’ll be swimming in cardboard box projects in no time!
The chief plastic that we ship out, the plastic wrap around our pallets, has plenty of wonderful reuse possibilities. While it may need a rinse and a dry, you could easily cut up the plastic wrapping into smaller pieces to cover up containers, like food containers! If you’d rather keep the plastics out of the home, you could turn larger pieces into makeshift garbage, or recycling bags (although you may want to double layer for strength).
Or mayhaps you have a bit of a draft coming through your windows, or some other area? You could cut strips of the plastic wrapping, place that over the drafty area, and then nail/screw a slat of wood over top of that to stop the air from coming through.
One more way to consider reusing the plastic wrap is to line the bottom of any sort of boxes or bins you don’t want things escaping from. Maybe it’s for feed, or perhaps for small items you’d rather not get away from you at an inopportune time.
So next time you get a pallet from us, consider carefully taking the plastic wrapping off, so you can use it for all sorts of things in the future!
Perhaps the first thing you think of when looking at that wood pallet we send is: Free Kindling! But there are far more uses that you can get out of that wood than chucking it in a fire. With the cost of wood on the rise, you may be better off disassembling them and reusing them for whatever patch projects you may have that need just that extra bit of wood.
Maybe you could use a table, a large shelf, or even a sturdy platform. In such cases you could take apart a pallet and use the wood from that to reinforce another! Going even further, with enough pallets, you can strap/screw/nail them together to create fences, bridges, even entire walls! Picture frames, signs, homemade decor, wall accents, vertical planters… with the wood you get from our pallets, the ways you can reuse them has no limits!
LET’S TALK A BIT ABOUT COMPOSTING:
We’ve spoken about various ways to reuse the packing materials that we send our products to you in, but there’s a third option next to reusing and recycling: Composting.
What is composting, you may ask?
Here’s how the Environmental Protection Agency defines it:
“Composting is a controlled, aerobic (oxygen-required) process that converts organic materials into a nutrient-rich soil amendment or mulch through natural decomposition. The end product is compost – a dark, crumbly, earthy-smelling material. Microorganisms feed on the materials added to the compost pile during the composting process. They use carbon and nitrogen to grow and reproduce, water to digest materials, and oxygen to breathe.”
You can compost food scraps, bits of wood, heck, even used bedding material, paper, and cardboard! With our brown bags (not the green or blue ones) and our cardboard boxes, you should shred them up before putting them in your compost bin (either as the bottom or as the ‘carbon rich browns’ part of composting.) A few of the products we sell can be composted up as well! Our Bedding Buddy happens to hold water quite well, which is a key component to the fermentation process that’s a part of composting, allowing microbes to do their job a lot easier. Then there’s the Aubiose and Aubichick Hemp Beddings, which break down much easier and faster than traditional wood beddings or straw, because the hemp fibers are less dense than wood, which allows the microbes to do their job quicker. (Plus the hemp bedding is already broken down into tiny pieces in the first place!)
So! We have given you tips on how to reuse the products and packaging NCO sends you, but there’s an earth-sized boatload of things we don’t have that you probably do!
Something to consider: If you have used electronics you could donate them to local charities, habitat for humanity/thrift store type places, donation drives that come about, or even try to sell them! (While you usually cannot donate them, you may be able to sell broken/worn electronics.) This applies to most anything that you do not want or need anymore: clothes, toys, books, magazines (which are good fire starters), furniture (these can be retooled and reused of course), parts, thingamabobs and doodads. Anything you don’t need and are about to trash… Consider giving it away, recycling it, selling it, or finding a new use for it.
Making habits can be hard, and going the recycling/reusing route instead of trashing things, can be a tough one to start, so start small! Start with using up NCO packaging in some of the ways we talked about and work your way up to reusing or recycling most everything you can think of!
The less trash we create… The better our planet, the better our future generations, the better our animals, and the better our lands will get with each positive choice we make!