Upcycling is the process of turning materials from the wastestream into new materials of higher environmental value.
Upcycle Yourself is a similar concept on a human scale, turning from agents of pollution into agents of environmental change.

May 3, 2011

Growing in the face of adversity

After nearly 9 million Canadians cast their votes for the NDP, the Bloc, the Liberals, the Greens, and various independent parties, the Conservatives won a majority government (more than 50% of the seats) with only 6 million votes. This certainly shows the basic need for a re-haul of the political system towards proportional representation. Basically, the Conservatives now have free reign to do whatever they'd like, with a political agenda that includes increased militarism, the seal massacre, and unapologetic capitalism at the expense of the environment. At least I can take some solace in living in Québec, one of the few provinces that is strongly in favor of an alternate government. Perhaps I'm in good company.

So, when coming to terms with four years of government that runs contrary to my value system, what is to be done? Grow something positive in the face of adversity. Literally.

The elections signs that are lining our streets with the faces of politicians are made from corrugated plastic, an ephemeral political message for the month of April resulting in trash that will still be around long after our lifetimes. When reclaimed, elections signs can become an integral part of self-watering container gardens, which makes gardening simple in urban spaces like rooftops, balconies, concrete surfaces and contaminated lots. So, grab some scissors (or visit your nearest election office and ask for their signs), and you can grow this summer's vegetables straight from the face of your favourite or least-favourite politician (depending on your sense of humour... I'll be growing on all of their faces, as a non-partisan attempt to grow something positive from the totality of our current political situation).

Find a styrofoam cooler to serve as the container. These can be reclaimed pre-wastestream from food markets or hospitals. Then, the election sign can be used to create a frame that will act as a water reservoir, meaning that you only need to water your plants two or three times a week instead of daily. My friend JP developed this technique for revaluing materials after the last elections. You can find full instructions here. Self-watering containers can be used to grow fruits and vegetables, as well as native flowers to help nourish the waning bee populations.

Four years is a long time... enough time for young trees to start bearing fruit... in four years there is an immense amount we can accomplish on a local level by planting gardens, creating community, educating ourselves, offering information to others, and steadily contributing to a much-needed paradigm shift.

It's springtime, there are election signs abound... there is every reason to begin a garden.



  1. this is a beautiful blog, it leaves me with positive feelings of optimism and excitement for gardening, a refreshing outlook to this otherwise rather morose Tuesday afternoon. Thank you for sharing meg :)

  2. Chère Meghan,

    ça fait du bien de te lire, ça apporte un peu de positif dans ce Québec (et Canada) qui s'enlise... On peut traduire ton post pour notre blog ?

    Merci et bon jardinage !


  3. Hey famille veg :)

    Of course, translate away! Bon jardinage à vous aussi :)