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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – The Gardening Edition

The age-old saying, “Waste not, want not.” carries more weight than ever before. Many nations and companies are pledging to reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills each year, meaning that recycling rates are going up in the right direction. 71% of paper and 82% of paper packaging is recycled into new products in Europe.1 But how can you do your bit to help towards a sustainable future?

From cardboard underlays to paper pots, here are 6 ways that you can incorporate your recycling into your gardening.

Paper Coffee Cups

If you happen to pick up a coffee in a paper cup, instead of throwing it in the recycling bin, why not use it as a plant pot! Remove the lid and make sure to clean out the inside properly before adding compost and planting any seeds of your choice. (You can even use egg trays for seed planting) They can be an ideal worktop display in your kitchen for growing your own herbs.

TIP: Cut your newspaper into circles so it fits the bottom of your flowerpot. Layer 3 pieces on top of each other before filling with soil and planting. This will provide a protective, breathable barrier that slows moisture from leaving your pots.

New Africa

Quirky Plant Pots

What do you do when your favourite mug gets chipped? Instead of throwing it away, why not hang onto it, fill it with soil and plant a flower so that it can continue to be used and enjoyed; chip or no chip the plant won’t mind. This also works for any other kitchen containers that have passed their sell-by date. Any old pots and pans that have lost their non-stick surfaces, missing handles or are misshapen are a good substitute for traditional plastic pots. Even old oil drums make great space-saving potato planters.

TIP: Turn old wellie boots into novelty planters by nailing a colourful row of them to a fence or piece of scrap wood and filling them with flowers. Just make sure to put some holes in the bottom of them for water drainage!


Lining Your Beds With Cardboard

Cardboard is an environmentally friendly and very accessible resource. Why not use it to line your planters and flower beds? This will not only degrade over time and add nutrients to the soil, but it acts as a preventative for weed and grass growth from beneath the bed.

TIP: Make sure you extend the cardboard slightly wider than the raised bed to ensure weeds and grass don’t begin to creep up the sides!


Using Shredded Paper In Your Compost

Paper is made from a natural, renewable material: wood fibre. This means that it can be used in your compost, it helps soil to retain moisture and the worms love it!

TIP: Avoid using waxy or laminated paper. Old receipts, statements and envelopes are safe for composting.


Wooden Leftovers

Even though these may not be typical items found in and around the home, taking a walk in your local parks or looking on marketplace websites and forums is a great place to start. If you can get hold of any wooden pallets, these can be good space-saving planters. From stripping them down to make garden furniture, to using the wood to create raised beds. They offer a range of planting opportunities. You can also use driftwood or sticks found in your local woodlands to prop up growing plants and decorate your garden.

TIP: Be careful of nails and splinters if you decide to strip apart wooden pallets.



Before you take your old bed frame or table and chairs to the dump, think about whether you could give it a second lease of life outdoors. Why not try using an old desk as a potting table, or greenhouse bench. Got an old dresser kicking about? You could recycle them in your shed or greenhouse to help you keep things organized. Alternatively, upturning a bookcase and filling it with compost is a great substitute for a raised bed or planter.

TIP: Coat all furniture in wood-seal or outdoor paint to make sure it stands the test of time.

If you are now feeling motivated to get outside and into your own garden, why not make your own plant pot using toilet rolls? These DIY pots are easy to make and can help you grow a variety of things from seed, such as flowers and herbs. You can download and print the instructions here.


  1. CEPI, 2021 + Eurostat, 2020.
  2. Art of Waste – Jade Beecroft. P96 Issue 38, Breathe. 2021.

The Paper Fact File

Paper is one of the most sustainable and recycled materials in the world!

Visit the Paper Fact File to discover the facts about paper’s sustainable attributes. Some might surprise you!