Don’t Bin It!

Lots of the waste we generate at home can be reused in our gardens. 

Instead of spending money on buying new pots, labels, compost etc. for the garden, here are 7 ideas for reusing everyday single use items that might otherwise be thrown away.  

Taking these actions can:

  •  save you money
  • reduce consumption and the carbon emissions that new things take to produce
  •  Stop waste going to landfill.  

A win-win for people and the planet! 

Plastic Bottles

We all know how plastic is dreadful for the environment.   We all need to try and reuse plastic as much as possible.  


Here are 5  things you can do in the garden with plastic bottles:

  • Cut into strips to make labels for plant pots and seed trays.
  • Cut bottles in half at an angle to make a handy scoop for compost or bird seed.
  • Bottles can be used to protect growing plants from pests. Cut the bottom off the bottle and place it over the plant, sinking it into the soil or using a stick poked through it to stabilize.
  • Bottles are also great for directing water to the roots of a growing plant. Cut off the bottom of the bottle and sink it into the soil near the plant, at a slight angle towards the roots. Pouring water directly into the sunken bottle helps it to reach the roots. Particularly good for thirsty plants like tomatoes and courgettes!
  • The same idea can be used in hanging baskets: a sunken bottle will direct water to the plant roots. Many vegetables can be grown in a hanging basket if you are short of space – certain varieties of tomatoes, aubergines, lettuce, strawberries and peppers are all good in a basket.

Toilet Roll Tubes

There are many garden uses for cardboard toilet roll tubes:

  • Fold in one end of the tube and fill it with compost, then use to sow veg or flower seeds. This method is particularly good for plants that like a long root run, such as beans and sweet peas. When the grown seedling is ready to plant out, simply plant the whole thing including the cardboard tube into the ground. The tube will gradually rot away.
  • When growing leeks, place a cardboard tube over the young seedling for it to grow up through – this will keep it clean.

It’s worth mentioning here that you can also  add waste paper and cardboard to your compost heap.  This adds structure. Along with toilet roll tubes, cardboard packaging, shredded documents, egg boxes, used kitchen roll and tissues, old greetings cards and wrapping paper can be added to your heap.

Compost Bags

Don’t bin empty compost bags, log bags and animal feed bags. Here are 4 ways they can all be reused in your garden.  

  • Use empty bags to make a grow bag for tomatoes, courgettes or other vegetables. Simply fill the bag with a mixture of spent compost from tubs or pots plus some home made or other fresh compost. If growing potatoes in the bag, leave space to cover the growing plants with more compost to avoid the light getting to them as they grow.
  • Fallen leaves will break down into fantastic leaf mould, if given time. Fill empty bags with the leaves, packing them down but leaving some holes in the bag to allow water to enter. Store for 1-2 years in a corner of the garden until the leaf mould is ready.
  • Use the empty bags as liners for seed trays or boxes when transporting plants.
  • Empty bags made of opaque black plastic can be laid over soil to suppress weeds, weighted down with stones or bricks.

Old CDs

Old CDs also have their uses in the garden:

  • Hang CDs on string and tie to canes and sticks to scare birds off your growing crops.

Plastic Food Containers

Many different plastic food containers can be reused in the garden:

  • Use a plastic container with a lid to sow your seeds in. The lid will act to retain warmth and moisture as the seeds germinate and grow, forming a mini greenhouse or propagator.
  • When the seedlings need to be potted on, yogurt pots or other small food pots may be the perfect size. Poke a hole in the bottom of the pot for drainage.

Window Frames and Pallets

Old window frames and pallets which might otherwise end up going to the dump can also be reused:

  • Use window frames (with glass) to construct a cold frame around tender growing plants at the start of the season.
  • Pallets can be used to make a compost bin or even raised beds.

Garden Waste

Garden waste itself can be reused in the garden rather than putting it in your green bin or taking it to the dump:

  • Grass cuttings make a great mulch to use on your flower or vegetable beds to suppress weed growth and help to retain moisture. The mulch also protects and feeds the soil. Simply spread the cuttings to a depth of 20cm. Over the soil around your plants.
  • Use pruned raspberry canes and other firm sticks and branches to support your growing plants.
  • All sorts of kitchen, household and garden waste can go in your compost bin. Any green (or orange, yellow or purple) vegetable waste, including cooked vegetable waste, can go in the bin. Coffee grounds, old cotton, silk or wool clothing (torn up), eggshells, paper and cardboard, rabbit and hamster bedding, tea bags, vacuum cleaner dust and wood ash can all go in too. 


We all want to save money but the tips above mean that you can do this, save the environment and reduce waste, all at the same time.

We need to be aware of what we’re throwing away and these tips show you how you can be a great gardener whilst using the waste that would normally end up in landfill 

Use the comments below to share any tips or tricks you use to make your garden more effective.    If you’d like to receive notification of more posts like this please consider signing up to our newsletter.   You’ll get access to Climate Hub news as it happens and also invites to our regular Zoom and in-person events

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