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Just wait until I get my hands on your rubbish!

Practical tips by Margaret RainbowWeb

From Permaculture International Journal #58 - March-May 1996 pp.29-30
Caption & Pictures courtesy of PIJ - I can't draw!!

In Permaculture, everything has more than one use.

Re-using "rubbish" is an essential element in the design of a sustainable society.
Margaret RainbowWeb, the 1995 winner of Jackie French's Great Recycling Competition (Australia) is a Permaculture designer and educator.
She specialises in urban Permaculture, living as part of a tiny but highly productive low energy system in metropolitan Adelaide, South Australia.

Margaret collects materials for recycling from neighbours and friends, streets and back lanes, vacant land,
nearby reserves, and local business and tradespeople.
If she can't use something herself she finds someone who can.
These are some of the recycling tips she has used.


There's a garden in my washing machine!

Place an old automatic washing machine outside, remove the back panel & strip the casing. Unbolt or unhitch anything else you can find. Use an old phone book to support the tub while you detach the main stays. You should end up with an assortment of useful hardware & hoses, a pump, and a motor. At least one of these may work. There will also be a tub or tubs as well as the casing. If you cannot detach the motor from the base of a double tub, it is still useful as a huge planter. Plant the motor in the soil underneath a large tree, or in a part of the garden where growing small plants directly in the soil is difficult. Fill the gap between the solid outer and perforated inner tub with absorbant material and you have a self-watering vegie garden.
Even if you do manage to remove the motor, you may prefer this method to avoid the job of separating the tubs and lining the perforated tub to avoid moisture seeping out the sides, but of course the tub can now be placed on a solid surface.

Ten litres of Guinea Pigs, Twenty of Chickens, thanks!

Twenty litre containers make good chicken nesting boxes. I use the lids as a removable back for easy cleaning and egg removal, and cut the base into two flaps - one for a porch, the other folds in to slip under the top few pages of the phone book floor. Plastic needs to be sharply scored to bend properly, and a stay is needed to keep up the top flap.

Ten litre containers work well for guinea pigs and quail. Again, use telephone books and shredded paper for floor and bedding. Tape over any sharp edges or cover with plastic hose slit down one side. Make sure the handle is underneath to stop the container from rolling.

Container recycling

Blakcbird Stationery Supplies

Shredded office paper used as a top mulch layer deters blackbirds from digging (I don't know why) provided they have somewhere else to dig, so it is best used around new seedlings. Don't make it too thick or it will take nitrogen from the good mulch underneath.

Container Joy

Ten & twenty litre containers make great planters. You can use vegetable oil, paint, or other containers, but make sure you clean them appropriately. Paint containers need the excess paint removed & should then be left open for a few weeks to allow the remaining paint to cure, & fumes to dissipate.

Make holes from inside the the container for drainage. You can also cut planting holes in the sides. The handles make them easy to carry & move around.They make great strawberry pots.

multiple planter and garden tite seat

A sturdy container makes a garden tote (carrier) & doiubles as a seat. The seat idea makes a great gift for any gardening lover. Make a small cushion, slip it inside the container, with a pair of gardening loves, a soft hat, apron, sunscreen, &l some gardening tools, as a present for a gardening friend. You can paint the outside of the containers to make them more attractive.

Getting into bondage

Tights & stretch socks can be cut into garden ties of various lengths. Their stretch allows plenty of room for growth when used to tie up plants, they are also good for tying trellis together.
In many cases they will replace bolts, make temporary gate hinges, hold a flapping fence panel together, & replace brown gutter ties.

Compost cartons

Large cartons & cardboard boxes are more durable than many people realise. Use them for compost bins, or to grow potatoes. Banana boxes can be slipped into their lids, then lined with newspapers & filled with soil, to grow all but the most deep rooted of annuals or perennials. These last at least a year, longer in cool climates, & are totally biodegradable.

More from various issues of the International Permaculture Journals of 1996/7:

bike wheels


the end of ironing


using flyscreens


No Such Thing As Rubbish(pdf file)
Prints as both sides of 2 sheets of A4)
rtf version - download or read online
Radical Reccycling
Really Radiucal Recycling!
And here is a link to scans of the three-page article containing more than a hundred recycling ideas,
published in the Autumn 2003 issue of the quarterly journal of the Permaculture Association of South Australia

This site is responsive,
if you have comments, questions or feedback, please Contact Margaret RainbowWeb
with questions & suggestions.
Your feedback will help keep the site relevant & useful.


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