If anybody knows the importance of sustainable living it is farmers; their livelihood depends on preserving our natural resources. There is a lot we can learn from the generations that came before us, many of them lived through the depression when even the smallest resource was priceless. To farmers “green living”, “upcycling”, and “recycling” are all a part of everyday life. Living on the farm has taught me many things about being resourceful and eliminating waste in daily activities.
The potential for upcycling on the farm are endless. Here are a few examples of some ideas around the farmhouse:
• Plastic Storage Containers – When you are a done with a tub of butter wash it and re-use it again. You can use it for a wide variety of tasks such as: food storage, crafts, storage for anything that would ordinarily get lost. Ziploc bags are perfect for transporting toilet supplies while traveling, storing comic books, organizing plastic fishing lures, first aid kits, and more.
• Old Clothes – One of my favorite ideas came from my grandmother, who uses her old dresses to make quilting squares. Not only is it practical, but the quilt will sentimental value as a heirloom to passed down for generations. Old t-shirts and socks can be used as cleaning rags
• Aluminum Foil – Aluminum foil used to cover food can be used several times before it is no longer useful. Disposable aluminum pans can also be reused and work especially well on the grill.
Even more potential for recycling exists in the barn, around the shop, and in the field.
• Buckets – Buckets from paint to powdered milk, and anything else can be upcycled for a wide range of chores around the farm such as: feed and water for animals, recycling old motor oil, composting food, and many more.
• Coffee Cans (plastic and metal) – These make handy scoops for feed or water, holding screws, nuts bolts, etc…
• Reclaimed lumber – There are a lot of old buildings on farms and when they are no longer in need much of the lumber can be recycled on new projects. There is also a lot of lumber left over from outdated farming practices which can be used for new projects.
• Old gates and confinement crates – These can be reused as temporary corrals or to fill washouts underneath fences.
• Barbed Wire Fences – Why use new ones? When you tear out an old fence you can reuse those metal “T” posts for many more years. If the barbed wire is not rusted through it can be rolled up and installed in a new location. The clips that hold the fence to the post can also be reused. Brace wires can be cut into shorter chunks and used to wire gates closed.
• Miscellaneous Iron – Old pipes and automobile axels make excellent fence post braces. The possibilities are endless!
• Leftover Building Materials – New building projects are a great source for various materials, as there is usually leftover material. Scraps of wood can be used for propping up implement jacks. Reflective insulation can be used to line dog houses, wrap water buckets, or anything else you want to keep cool.