Hey! I’m excited about sustainability, but I’m really poor! So here are some tips if you are also poor.
Some starter tips
There are some things you can take that, while not stealing, people won’t expect you to take. This includes seed collecting from untended gardens, portions of plants that grow in the wild, and soil from parks. This kind of stuff can cut down on expenses.
Seeds can be sold in expensive stores, but can also be taken from produce you buy. Stuff like garlic, onions, green onions, tomatoes, and potatoes are all really easy to reproduce by themselves. Care enough to want organic, heirloom, ect? Go to a farmers market, take the seeds.
Some places also do seed libraries or seed swaps. Keep an eye out for these, especially if you live in or near a big town. Dollar tree also sells seeds in the spring.
A lot of this might involve bending rules. Be sneaky and be careful.
Ideally, land to plant on in a garden is how food is produced. However if you’re like me you live in a cramped, overpriced studio on the second floor or something.
Yeah containers work. But you need soil for that, and you can’t grab all of it from potting soil bags ripped open at your local garden store. Maybe if you’re patient. But I’m not.
Hydroponic setups work better. One like this requires a plastic bottle, some kind of mesh, and fertilizer.
Fertilizer is, in a lot of places, seen as a bright blue powder sold in gardening stores. You could buy that. I wouldn’t personally. You could steal it from a chain store. But more likely, you could make your own. This article talks about fertilizer from food and food waste. And you can learn about nutritional needs of plants here.
This method could grow herbs, leafy greens, and some vine plants like pole beans, with support. this is not recommended for root plants like potatoes, for a lot of reasons.
Of course if you have access to dirt (not necessarily potting soil) you’re in a better place. Do a few tests, like drainage and composition. PH shouldn’t be a huge deal if you’re digging it up, just find dirt that shit is already growing in. Find a container that can hold a lot of dirt, poke a few good sized holes for water drainage, and plant that shit!
If you manage to bring some of your shit past usable to seed, congrats! Maybe learning about seed collection would help you spread the love to your other friends.
Oh and since there are no bees in your apartment (I hope) you’re gonna need to hand pollinate fruiting plants.
Recycling and reusing
Perhaps the most efficient way of doing this is having friends who also reuse things. You’re not gonna be able to save every candy wrapper most days, and I’m in no position to give up simple luxuries like candy. If you got the money, finding local producers who use compostable/recyclable materials for your little luxuries is nice though. But some of us ain’t got that kinda money. And that’s ok.
As I said before, bottles can be used to make hydroponic gardens. Maybe if you want you can help your friends set up some gardens if you got one too many two liters from Little Caesars.
Plastic bags can be turned into plarn (plastic yarn) and used to knit or crochet. If you feel so inclined you can learn to make cool shit, like reusable shopping bags or something. You could also make a bunch of plarn and outsource this to your friend who likes to knit in exchange for something you wanna do, or are good at.
Egg cartons can be used as seed starters. If you use the cardboard kind, they’ll dissolve into the soil if you break em down a little before planting them.
Aluminum foil can be used to keep algae out of your hydroponic garden, or as an alternative to steel wool.
There’s a lot that I could say, but reuse stuff is popular right now. Ideally, it should be reused into something that has a good use. And remember, sharing your talents and outsourcing things you can’t do is good and pure.
This is gonna be a little more expensive. If you got a little money laying around, this could help reduce your power bill or something. But this isn’t gonna be free or next to free.
Phone chargers are an easy one to power. They charge up and don’t vary in their power needs.
This tutorial is, quite frankly, brilliant, and takes away a lot of the barriers to making solar powered stuff (like soldering). They tear apart a garden light to do this. That light could be used for some plants or something.
Wind and hydro are kinda unrealistic for an apartment, but it’s something people do.
Food banks, community gardens, borrowing land, pooling resources. Buy an empty plot with your friends and start a community garden.