How to make recycled planters from household objects

During any extended periods of time at home, it’s always good to surround yourself with plant life.  A sunflower growing at the bottom of the garden can bring such joy, and nurturing aromatic and tasty herbs on your windowsill can bring even more satisfaction. All you need is a pack of seeds and a handful of compost and off you go! No outside space, or stuck without a pot? Here’s how to convert some household objects into planters without the hassle or expense of visiting the shops.

Newspaper Pots

 You will need:

  • Newspaper
  • Tin can
  • Compost
  • Seeds

Making paper pots out of newspapers is fun and a great way to recycle.  Once the pots are made, you can plant them up and wait for your produce to grow, place the pots directly into the ground without having to disturb your plants. Easy, so lets give it a try.

  • Find an old newspaper and take one sheet out
  • Fold length ways so you have a long strip of newspaper
  • Take a recycled tin can (with lid removed) and place the solid end along the folded edge of the newspaper
  • Wrap the paper loosely around the tin and roll around until you have a tube around the tin
  • Fold one edge of the paper into the hole of the tin
  • Remove the tin from its sleeve
  • Put the tin, flat end first, back into the paper pot and squish the paper flat inside the pot
  • Ta da! Your pot is ready to fill with compost
  • Water your pot, then plant up with seed (sunflowers or beans are good) and cover with a thin layer of compost
  • Water again and place in a warm sunny spot, keep moist
  • When your plants have grown and are ready to plant outside, place the entire pot into the soil, the paper will break down and your plants will grow happily out of the pot

Fabric Tin Can Planters

You will need:

  • Tin cans
  • Hammer & Nail
  • Doubled sided sticky tape
  • Recycled fabric (in strips)
  • Scissors
  • Compost & Seeds (seasonal herbs or bulbs)

Brighten up any windowsill with these easy to make recycled fabric tin planters.  Perfect for growing herbs or spring bulbs in on a budget and great for the environment too.

  • Wash out your used tin cans, remove any paper labels and bang two or three drainage holes in the bottom using a hammer and nail (on a work surface like a chopping board).
  • Cut some old fabric into strips about 2cm thick and long enough to wrap around your tin. They don’t have to be neat.
  • Stick a strip of double sided sticky tape around the tin at the bottom of your tin can, cut to make a sticky ring all around.
  • Add one strip of fabric on top of the tape, cut off any excess fabric so each end meets.
  • Add another layer of sticky tape above your fabric and overlay another strip of fabric in another colour for contrast, trim and make sure you don’t leave a gap between the first and second fabric strip, each strip should overlap the one before.
  • Repeat the process all the way up the tin until you reach the top, trim any excess fabric around the top edge, or fold the fabric over the top if the edge is sharp, being careful to stick it down with a layer of tape first.
  • Add decorations to finish your multi fabric masterpiece! Wrap string around it and tie in a bow, add ribbon or glue on buttons, let your creativity shine.
  • Now your planter is ready to plant; add seed compost to the tin, water, then sprinkle your herb seeds, or plant a Spring bulb following the packet guidelines. Cover with another layer of compost, water again and keep in a warm sunny spot watering regularly. Then see your creation come to life!

Recycled Milk Bottle 5x Ways

You will need:

  • Plastic Milk Bottles (x5)
  • Craft Knife
  • Hammer & Nail (or sharp pointed object like a scewer)
  • Compost
  • Seeds – bird seeds and herb seeds to plant
  • Marker pen
  • Kebab sticks
  • String

Making a new use for any object is fun, but making five uses out of your used plastic milk bottles is incredible!

  1. Bird feeder
  • Draw a large circle on the bottle to make a hole to let birds inside to feed on the seed (at least 2 cm from the bottom)
  • Carefully cut the hole out using a craft knife
  • Screw a smaller hole underneath the big hole
  • Insert a kebab stick into the small hole to act as a perch for the birds to land on
  • Screw a hole through the lid of the bottle, feed an arms length of string through the hole, and tie several knots in the end that screws inside the bottle
  • Loop the other end of string and tie so you have a loop you can hang on a tree branch or hook outside
  • Screw the lid on the bottle
  • Fill the base with birdseed, its ready to go!
  1. Sprinkling watering bottle
  • Remove the lid from your bottle and place over something soft like a cushion, screw side up (to ensure a good flow)
  • With a screw or hammer and nail, make several small holes in the lid for the water to sprinkle out
  • Fill the bottle with water
  • Screw the lid back on and you have a practical sprinkling watering bottle to place near your plants, this is especially good for seedlings and your plants that need delicate watering
  1. Scoop
  • Place your water bottle on its side with the handle facing up
  • Draw a scoop shape around the bottle starting from the top edge of the bottle, half way along, down in a rainbow shaped arch to the bottom edge of the bottle at the base
  • Cut along the top edge to meet each scoop shaped arch
  • Job done, you have a scoop perfect for filling your pots from the compost bag
  1. Plant labels
  • With any spare plastic you have, utilise for plant labels by cutting into strips about 1cm wide by 8cm long (finger size)
  • Trim one edge to a point and set aside for your planting projects
  • Use a marker pen to label your pots so the plant names do not wash off when watering
  • You have a invaluable stash of plant labels at your fingertips!
  1. Self-draining planter
  • Cut a milk bottle around its centre in half carefully using a craft knife
  • Remove the lid from the bottle and turn the milk bottle top half upside down
  • Place the top half of the bottle back into the bottom half of the bottle, so the bottle ‘mouth’ is face down at the bottle base
  • You are ready to fill the container with compost and plant some seeds! When you water, the water will collect in the base and your plant will be happy and stay moist

Good luck with making these, and send some lovely photos to kentcog@kent.ac.uk

All the best,

Emily Hill Kent Community Oasis Garden Coordinator

Ecotherapy

Guest post by Emily Hill, KentCOG Coordinator. The Kent Community Oasis Garden (KentCOG) is a partnership growing and wellbeing project based at the University of Kent and run by East Kent Mind. Find out more at blogs.kent.ac.uk/kentcog

————————————————————————————————–

Ecotherapy at home

Ecotherapy is essentially all about improving your mental and physical wellbeing by doing activities outdoors in nature, but what happens when your time outside is limited, or you can’t access green spaces easily?  In these difficult times, where social distancing and staying at home is becoming the new normal, let’s take a look at what can be done to top up our daily dose of green care.

At KentCOG even though volunteers are unable to get to the community garden at the moment to work in nature, every individual can still experience nature and the positive effects it has on wellbeing and physical health from home, and so can you.  Here’s how, with some of my favourite suggestions from Mind’s Making sense of ecotherapy resource, available online at www.mind.org.uk:

Bring nature into your home environment

  • Collect natural materials such as leaves, flowers, feathers, tree bark, seeds and anything else that you like to decorate your home and use in art projects.
  • Create a comfortable space to sit in in your home where you can look out over a view of the sky or a tree.
  • Grow plants on your windowsills. 
  • Take photos of your favourite places in nature and set them as your phone and computer backgrounds.
  • Try to do more everyday activity in front of a window so that you can see the sky (for example ironing clothes, chopping vegetables, brushing your teeth, drying dishes or daily exercises).
  • Download some recordings of your favourite natural sounds such as birdsong or waves.

Try horticulture at home

  • Create a growing space at home. If you don’t have a garden invest in a window box or plant pot and plant some salad leaves or herbs – even keeping a small container on your windowsill can help. 
  • If you have flower beds try planting some vegetables amongst the flowers. Many varieties of vegetables have attractive flowers for part of the year and might even add to your display.
  • Put your name down for an allotment or consider sharing one.
  • Join a local community food growing project if there is one in your area.
  • Go fruit picking in the countryside, or find out about urban food foraging and get some tasty food for free.  For example, in late summer and early autumn you might find lots of wild blackberry bushes growing in urban spaces, and some trees you walk by every day on your street might actually be apple or cherry.

Get close to animals

  • Go for walks in the countryside by rivers, fields and trees, and look out for wildlife. If you don’t live near open countryside, look out for urban wildlife in your local park, such as squirrels, fish, insects, ducks and other birds. 
  • Go birdwatching by yourself.
  • Hang a bird feeder outside one of your windows. If you have the space you could build a small roosting box on a tree or under a windowsill so that you can watch baby sparrows or blue tits when they leave the nest. The RSPB provides more information on feeding and sheltering birds.
  • Think about whether owning a pet would be the right thing for you. Many people find caring for a pet every day brings lots of benefits, but you need to be sure your home environment and personal circumstances would be the right thing for the animal as well as for you. If you don’t own your home, it’s also important to check if you’re allowed pets. 

Do your bit for the Environment

  • Go on a litter picking walk in the park or on the beach.
  • Plant something outside the front of your home so that everybody who walks by can enjoy it.
  • Plant flowers for the bees and berry bushes for the birds in your garden.
  • Build an animal habitat – put up a bird box, create a hedgehog house or create a pond if you have enough space. Even a small pond can offer a home to creatures, such as newts and pond skaters.

Do more activities outdoors

  • Build a ten minute walk into your day, see if you can plan the route so that you take in a park or river.
  • If you have a garden create a space in it that you enjoy sitting in, have a picnic with home grown produce.
  • Sit under a tree in silence for a while, lean back against it and feel it supporting you.
  • Give yourself a sensory outdoor workout – find things to look at, listen to, taste, smell and touch. For inspiration visit the Let Nature Feed Your Senses website (letnaturefeedyoursenses.org).

Ecotherapy improves mental health, physical health, develops social life, builds confidence, strengthens your connection with nature and helps you practise mindfulness.  There are many ways to get involved and more information and support available at mind.org.uk. You can also join in a weekly zoom meeting on Green Spaces KentCOG 2-3pm from my home and see many of these ideas being put into practice. Spaces are limited, to book email info@eastkentmind.org.uk.

Take care.

What Kent Businesses Are Doing To Reduce Their Impact On The Local Environment

Guest post: This post was contributed by Lee Sadd, a senior trainer at Kent health & safety consultant and training provider SAMS Ltd, based in Ramsgate. SAMS is a leading provider of environmental safety courses, and offers a range of classroom and online courses, business advisory services and event management solutions.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Our environment is being placed under increasing pressure by human activity, and businesses everywhere are becoming more aware of the need to adopt sustainable and environmentally-friendly practises.

With no fewer than 116 sites considered to be of national and international importance for conservation, and with 350 miles of coastline, the county of Kent has a lot to preserve. Over the last five years alone, there has been an incredible 719% increase in the amount of renewable energy generated in the county, while 13,000 electric cars have been registered since 2016. Kent now also has around 56,000 people employed in the low carbon environmental goods and services sector.

With environmental impacts on business now thought to be costing the global economy around $4.7tn every year, businesses across Kent are investing in ways to minimise environmental impacts around the use of energy, carbon, waste, water pollution and emergency planning. The ingenuity of local businesses both large and small could have a tangible effect on the world and the local environment, both through new breakthroughs and cumulative changes.

Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

There are many steps a small or medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) might take to reduce its overall environmental impact. Easy gains include using less paper, introducing recycling bins throughout the workplace, and working with fellow green-minded businesses. These can be complemented by other impact-reducing ideas, from energy-saving LED lighting to more sustainable heating-systems.

These will not only reduce your business’ environmental impact, but also bring down costs through more efficient resource management. And while larger businesses can adopt many of the same simple strategies to reduce environmental impact, SMEs may also be eligible for a grant to reduce their carbon footprint.

Low Carbon Across the South East (LoCASE) is a programme that provides support and grants to SMEs in South East England for low carbon initiatives. Many Kent SMEs have already benefited from LoCASE grants, including Winterdale Cheesemakers – a well-established and award-winning manufacturer of Kentish Cheese.

With funding from LoCase, Winterdale introduced solar panels and invested in an electric vehicle for deliveries. The company now aims to completely operate from renewable sources, saving a remarkable 6.5 tonnes of CO2 and over £2,500 in energy spend. LoCASE has also given grants to a range of other SMEs to help reduce their energy use and environmental impact.

Low Carbon Kent, a network of businesses dedicated to reducing environmental impact both locally and globally, is another body set up with Kent SMEs in mind. One organisation that was recently able to benefit from its funding and advice is also amongst the most important historical site in Kent – Canterbury Cathedral. Part of its roof is now covered in a new solar panel system, which over its lifespan will offset 152,000 kg CO2 and save an estimated £101,567.

Big Businesses

The bigger the business, the bigger its environmental impact is likely to be – and Kent punches above its weight when it comes to contributing to the overall UK economy. Despite its relatively small population of 1.7 million, Kent produces somewhere in the region of £18bn worth of goods and services, and is home to some of the largest and most well-known companies in the UK. Kent’s businesses cover an amazingly diverse array of industry sectors, from tourism to pharmaceuticals.

Kent is also (and rightly) famous for its beer. Faversham’s Shepherd Neame Brewery, which makes favourites like Spitfire and Orchard Brew, has a history stretching back to at least 1698 – and may be even older than that. Despite its age, Shepherd Neame has been remarkably proactive in taking steps to reduce its environmental impact on the local area. 97% of the grain and hops used in the brewing process are now recycled as feed for farm animals,. In 2013 the company invested £3 million in a new Water Recovery Plant, which allows it to recycle the waste water that results from brewing and cleaning, bringing down water consumption by 40%.

By introducing a new heating system, the company was also able to generate impressive energy savings. Other players in the industry have also taken similar steps. J.D. Wetherspoons boasts many pubs in Kent, including the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, which may be the largest pub in Europe. Wetherspoons has also now stopped using plastic straws in its premises – a move that will have benefits for the environment in Kent, particularly around its seaside pubs and bars.

Kent is also home to the first sustainable business park in the UK – Betteshanger Park, in Deal. This £40 million park combines business, ecotourism, and research and development, providing a site for low carbon and sustainable companies involved in food security, environmental technology, life sciences (including agri-tech) and green technologies. Through its proposed Education Centre, Betteshanger Park will also provide up to around 500 traineeships in green technologies, improving the presence of environmentally-friendly businesses in Kent and the U.K. more widely.

More exciting news includes the fact that Kent is soon to be the site of the largest solar power plant in the UK. Cleve Hill solar farm will occupy the north coast of Kent and, when built, will provide up to 350 MW of generating capacity. Kent already has an impressive green energy profile, with the Thanet Offshore Windfarm – at the time of commissioning the largest wind farm in the world – producing over 7m hours of electricity since being officially commissioned in 2005. Kent may soon become the home of renewable energy, sustainable energy and eco-businesses in the U.K.

There is always more that all of us – businesses and citizens – can do to be greener. But Kent has already done plenty to trial and innovate business practises that reduce impacts on the local environment, and create a better future for us all.

Pokemon Go(als)

My two worlds collided last week when I was alerted to the fact that Pokemon Go creators Niantic were ‘standing with the global goals’ and were offering free global goals t shirts to every Pokemon Go players avatars.

Now if you are not familiar with either Pokemon Go or the Global Goals, this next bit is for you:

Pokémon Go is a free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices. The game was the result of a collaboration between Niantic and Nintendo, by way of The Pokémon Company.  Players create and customize their own avatars, which as the player moves within their real world surroundings, their avatars move within the game’s map. The purpose of this is to catch and collect Pokemon which if you were not a 90’s kid probably need their own explanation.

The Global Goals are the 17 aspirational goals established by 193 countries and United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in 2015. The 17 goals cover the world’s greatest challenges and are underpinned by over 100 targets to eradicate poverty, halt climate change and end inequality by 2030.

Now as an avid Pokemon Goer in my spare time, and a sustainable development professional as my day job I did not see this coming! So why have Pokemon Go and The United Nations paired up on this project?

At the last estimate around 65 million people are playing Pokemon Go each month and perhaps unsurprisingly the majority of players are under 30.

The United Nations and World Economic Forum has said before that that young people are crucial in delivering the goals as they are the people that are going to be most challenged by the current status quo, for example unstable work, low wages, education inequality, climate change effects etc…

So what better way to keep the conversation going about the goals amongst young people than by making it a part of well loved and daily signed in game.

Niantic have asked, “We hope everyone will join us in having their avatar wear the Global Goals shirt proudly to show their support and spread awareness for these critically important Goals.”

It may be a little thing but I have to say it has been heartening to see just how many other Pokemon trainers are wearing the Global Goals shirt as I have been out playing the game. Hopefully this is just another little things that pushes the Global Goals into the consciousness of people, and I shall be doing my bit by wearing my shirt proudly!