Got Cats? Recycle, Repurpose, Reuse in the Garden!

Reader Contribution by Blythe Pelham
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There are few things more special to me than sitting in my garden at 6:30 of a morning slowly working my way through the weeds in a zen-like peace, especially on a Sunday morning while all the sane folks are still asleep. However, right now I’m here to talk to you about kitty litter—or more specifically the containers this life-with-cats necessity comes in. I heartily agree that recycling is a great way to go once you’ve used the contents. However, the genetic code of my Dutch grandfather coursing through my body urges me toward finding ways to reuse and repurpose first.

Repurposing over and over is practically like getting tools for my garden for free. I use the buckets for myriad purposes, from hauling and toting to collecting and mixing. I even have several buckets full of stones waiting patiently for a rock garden to magically appear. Okay, they’ve been waiting for a couple of years now so that’s technically more like storage but you get the idea.

The buckets can be used for tidying and carrying things from place to place and they can be used to contain things you fetch from locations at a distance. I’ve picked up composted alpaca poo, cow manure, and leaves from a local compost heap. Each of these things had their own delightful earthy odor and composition but each also helped me amend my garden to a happier, healthier state of being. I’ve also transported saplings and other wonderful gifts from friends thinning their plants.

A mandatory springtime activity for me is weeding the bank that runs the length of our property and was formerly lawn. I employ my cat litter buckets for hauling arborist chips down the hill, emptying them on my freshly weeded patches, then filling them back up with pulled weeds to tote back up the hill. I’m sure there are many other methods I could use but I like the ease of carrying this manageable weight and I like the rate at which I can work while setting a bucket next to me as I move methodically along.

We save the water from our basement dehumidifier in the buckets for use on houseplants during the winter and outdoor babies the rest of the year when Mother Nature decides an inch of rain each week isn’t quite up to her mood. Would it be easier to use the hose with the dehumidifier to empty into the drain? Certainly! However, this way we nearly always have water when we need it and we don’t have to pay extra for it.

I use the containers for collecting seeds, holding currently-in-use hand tools, storing kindling and sticks for my fire circle, carrying seedlings for transplanting, and picking up trash that’s blown into the garden from outside the yard. We have a bucket in the kitchen for compost collection. When it gets too gross, we simply leave it open outside for Mother to work her magic. A simple drying with wind, sanitizing with sun, followed by a rainwater soak to cleanse, and it’s ready to go back into useful rotation. I also utilize the buckets when I turn my compost pile and collect the rich new soil.

Not to worry if you don’t get the buckets and instead purchase your litter in the smaller, easier to carry containers. I have also used these for storing and toting water. The photo above shows my hand tools in a trimmed one of this style. This particular bottom was also used to start some of my corn this year (as seen in the middle right photo of the collage). I love using the bottoms of these containers with used toilet paper tubes filled with soil for starting seeds. I haven’t done so but I’ve seen the trimmed tops used to drip-water plants.

Of course, if you don’t have cats you’re up a creek because I’m betting your cat-loving neighbors have discovered their own uses for these utilitarian items and will be as reticent to share them as I am. So get a cat. Then you can have fun creating your own uses for these containers then do a little happy dance that you’re part of the green new deal. My only caveat is recommending they not be used for food storage as they aren’t made of food grade plastic.

Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online atHumings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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