In nature there is no concept of waste, simply stuff in the wrong place. This is key to the circular economy: reducing, reusing and recycling materials in order to protect our finite resources.
With the latest report from the IPCC estimating that we have just 12 years to try and suppress the drastic consequences of climate change, and UK government bodies already issuing a drought warning for 2019, there has never been a more important time to be more sustainable and preserve our resources.
But try not to feel too helpless, there is plenty you can do in your own space to champion sustainability. Here are our tips for incorporating the circular economy into the design of your garden. No matter how big or small your garden is, we all have an important part to play in the protection of our planet.
Choosing native plants and flowers for your garden will help to ensure their long-term survival, as well as promote sustainable gardening.
Native flowers and plants which are often considered to be weeds, such as brambles, dandelions, buttercups and ox-eye daisies, are actually the best suited to your garden as they are extremely well adapted to the local area and climate. Not only will they need less water to thrive, but they will also attract the greatest numbers of bees and other local pollinating insects, which are the key components of a thriving garden.
Smart planting can also reduce issues with overheating and reliance on air conditioning in the summer; deciduous trees can help block 60-90 per cent of sun. A pergola or similar structure, with a deciduous climber on top, will provide shade to the building and windows during summer, while still allowing sun to come through during the winter. Having more plants in the garden will create a cooler summer garden, as the air will be cooled by transpiration from the plant’s leaves.
Use water carefully
According to a survey by Hubbub, 76 per cent of households are not concerned about the amount of water they use. This is staggering given the increasingly unstable climate in the UK which has led to water being in relatively short supply. We should all be conserving as much water as possible, and there are many ways this can be done in the garden.
Installing a rainwater barrel at the base of gutters is an excellent way to collect and store rainwater which will become invaluable later in the year for use on plants and flowers. Source barrels locally or repurpose something you already have or find second-hand.
Mulching is a very effective way for maximising a small amount of water in the garden. Spread biodegradable material such as compost or wood chippings over soil or around a plant to create an organic barrier which will prevent over drying in the sun. As well as suppressing weeds by blocking sunlight, the mulch will add nutrients to the soil.
Control pests naturally
The catastrophic decline of insect species that we are currently witnessing around the world is thought to be partially caused by the overuse of pesticides. Eradicating their use in your garden is essential if we are to preserve the vital role of insects in our ecosystem; they help to supply is with clean air, water and food.
One way that you can control pests naturally is through companion planting. This is an entirely natural way to reduce pesticides by growing crops together which are mutually beneficial to each other. For example, French marigolds emit a strong odour which discourages greenfly and blackfly, making them the perfect companion for tomatoes, beans and sweetcorn.
A compost heap is an excellent way to recycle food and other organic waste into a rich fertiliser for soil. Whether it’s vegetable peelings or grass cuttings, not only are you reducing household waste, you are also improving the soil quality of your garden.
Household objects such as old toilet and kitchen roll tubes can be repurposed into biodegradable seedling plant pots. Simply cut to size, fold over the bottom and plant directly into soil. Equally, non-recyclable black plastic containers make great makeshift plant pots, while also reusing something that would otherwise go to landfill. The black colour also prevents light from getting to the roots of the plant, which would otherwise hinder its growth.
Opt for sustainable garden furniture
For environmentally friendly finishing touches to your garden look into investing in sustainable garden furniture options.
More and more consumers are becoming conscious of the environmental provenance of their products. As this market grows, sustainable options are able to compete with traditional garden furniture, both in terms of price and quality, but also with the added bonus of diverting waste from landfill into new long-life products.
For a luxury and environmentally friendly addition to any patio we recommend all-weather rattan garden furniture. Created with a handmade weave made from 100 per cent recycled polyethylene, this plays into the circular economy as previously un-useable plastic waste is put to good use in a sustainable, long-term solution, as well as being suitable for recycling at the end of its life. So now you can relax in the knowledge that your furniture is doing its bit for the environment as well as looking great too.
A garden supporting the circular economy
We can all play our part at home and in the garden to cut down on waste. Whether it’s repurposing cardboard tubes into seedling pots, turning grass cuttings into organic fertiliser or collecting rainwater for use later in the year, these small but sustainable steps will not only help to cultivate a healthier and more thriving garden, they will also help to sustain the circular economy and ultimately, our planet.
EnviroBuild is a true industry leader in progressing the sustainability and environmental impact of construction materials. To find out more about the projects it has been supporting and our sustainability mission click here.