Friday, April 22, 2011

If the Earth Dies, You Die

Happy Earth Day!!

This year I was introduced to all sorts of fascinating ideas. The first one was called Global Buckets and is a way to recycle, feed starving people, and grow a garden wherever you happen to be. I decided to try it.

A Global bucket is a version of an Earth Box. An Earth Box is the fancy name of what we tried to make two years ago out of cardboard boxes: basically a very un-fancy raised garden bed with the fancy benefits of being cheap, easy, no weeding, and a lot less watering.

In order to make a global bucket you need two five-gallon buckets. You can buy these, sure. but, you can also get them free at any store with a bakery (besides WalMart). The stores just throw them away, so they are happy to give them to you for free, and you are saving two buckets from ending up in a landfill. Hooray!

You also need:
1" PVC pipe, 24 inches long--$1.67 for a really long piece, I think you can get three out of it
1 plastic cup. I have a collection of odd plastic cups. I buy a package, and then all but three get used, and I save those three. That is what I used for this.
Dirt-- This is the hard part. On the Global Buckets website, they give you a very specific formula of dirt. I went to Home Depot and bought 3 bags for $3.97 each, and that still wasn't enough dirt. That is too expensive for my taste. I am looking for a wholesale way to get special dirt, or I might just use normal dirt.
1 plastic garbage bag
1 plant
zip ties, rubber bands, or string, whatever you have.

Cut or drill a hole in the middle of the bottom of one of the buckets. We'll name that bucket "bucket A". Make the hole big enough for the plastic cup to rest in. Now cut another hole to the side, big enough for the PVC pipe to fit through. Now drill lots of tiny holes so Bucket A looks like this:

top view:
Drill holes three or four in the sides of the other bucket, which we shall name "Bucket B". Evenly space them so they go all around Bucket B:
Now go back to Bucket A. When you put the PVC pipe through the hole, you'll want to tie it to the side of the top of Bucket A. Measure where those holes should be so you can use your zip ties, rubber bands, or string to secure the PVC pipe:
Bucket A, on left, Bucket B on right:
Top view:
Now slice your cup three times, take your dirt, wet it, and fill the cup up with the dirt so it looks like this:
Put Bucket A inside of Bucket B, and put the cup inside Bucket A:
Insert PVC pipe, secure the pipe to the side of the bucket, and fill Bucket A with wet dirt. Compact the dirt in the middle, but leave the dirt around the sides loose:
Plant your plant, and cover with a garbage bag, cutting two holes: one for the plant, one for the PVC pipe:
There you go. Now add sunshine. You can put your bucket on a rooftop, a patio, a balcony, or in a backyard. Supposedly this system is fool-proof, and people in third world countries and make them to grow their own food. I'll let you know how my cherry-tomato plants works out.

Another fascinating idea I found is a minimalist lifestyle, which Drek and I have embraced and are currently working on. I LOVE it. It is actually fun. That lead to doing a bit more research on the Story of Stuff. If you haven't seen that video yet (it was viral a while ago) you really, really should. That lead to Non-consumerism, which I am just starting to get serious about. I think to celebrate Earth Day this year, I will take action! I am not going to buy anything new (besides food, of course) from a store for an entire month (end date May 22). I'm hoping in a month, I can do it again for an entire year, but that scares me, so I'm taking baby steps. So where can I shop? Thrift stores, Craig's List and yard sales of course, but mostly the idea is to really evaluate what I buy: Do I really need it? Really? Is it worth the toll it took on the environment? Do I need it more than the money it costs? Or do I need/want that money to be used for something else? Do I want that item to take up space in my house? Or do I want that space for other things (like nothing: easy to clean, easy to move, easy to replace). If I buy it, will it own me? Will it make my life better?

The last idea was a zero-waste lifestyle. Which after watching that short video, I want. I don't know how, but my end goal is to have four months of trash fit into my hand. I'll let you know how that goes.


  1. That global bucket idea is amazing. And I love reading Miss Minimalist's blog. Just my two cents.

  2. That minimalist lady's website makes me gag - she's so self-focused ("here is my book! buy it! whee! here is my other book! buy it too! look I lowered the price! buy it!")

    A good website I know of is: And also, and

    Try not to go off the deep end. There's a huge difference between uncluttered/clean spaces and sparse, utilitarian/Spartan-ness.

    Do you buy used shoes? Used undergarments? This is where the whole "not buying anything new!" argument breaks down for me. Because ew.

  3. I love miss minamilist. That zenhabits looks great too. I will add that to my list.

    Yes, I do buy used shoes! Actually, my last two pairs of shoes have been free, so I guess I didn't buy them, they were given to me (used). That does not creep me out all.

    As for underwear; of course not, silly! But since I don't buy them EVERY MONTH, I don't think it will be a problem for this goal. How often do people buy underwear? I think I average every 6 month. Is that normal? Sometimes maybe only once a year. But, again, the main idea is prioritizing money, space, time, and such to give the things I do own and buy more value, to give my life more peace and to give my days more joy and fun!

  4. Or you could just plant a tomato plant, or seed, in a pot with cheap garden soil, and add water every few days. Thus saving the plastic bag, PVC pipe, plastic cup, and extra bucket, and expensive dirt and gas from driving around collecting these items. My tomatos from seed have come around and flowering for the second year in a row. Double good.
    Im just saying....:) Take it with a pinch of salt. I love your post, its very informative and detailed. I however, prefer the simple method. Water, dirt, sun. :)
    Ill be keeping an eye on your plant. Im interested to see how its own ecosystem keeps it going. Neat.
    Love you so much. Happy Easter.

  5. My biggest question after making the bucket is: How do poor people in third world countries get the fancy dirt?

  6. Actually, this global buckets project was supposed to be done with four other people, and I was going to make an entire garden. Once we started researching the cost of materials, it was decided the we either need to find cheaper dirt, or just do it the old fashioned way: water dirt and sun like you said. The benefit of having the whole system is #1: 80% more water efficient (meaning much better in our drought) and #2 the food grown is supposed to be bigger and more plentiful.

    We scaled it back so Just Drek and I made this one as a prototype: to see if it was worth it. So, this is research stage. Not final "this is the way to go!" stage. Maybe we can use your tomato plants as a comparison!!

    My biggest question after making the bucket is: How do poor people in third world countries get the fancy dirt?

  7. I think its a wonderful science experiment either way, extra cost or not. On the flip side, sure it would save you 80% more on water, but really, how much water can one tomoato plant need? An entire garden, I could see the savings, but not in comparison to what the output would be for the cost of supplies and dirt. You guys also have such a big yard that you have an abundance of space, but rabbits and such might pose a problem and you might need to invest in some fencing. I dont know if my tomato plants would be a good comparison or not...maybe so. They are 2nd generation. They were pretty much dead from last season, which was so hot it basically scorched them nearly to death. My mom clipped them down, pulled off all the dead parts, and voila, they sprouted and now have zillions of flowers on them, just waiting to be yummy tomatos.
    Good luck, I love nature. I love science. Fun!

  8. Good question about the dirt. Maybe you should make a second bucket, usually dirt from your yard...or regular garden soil. Now THAT would be a neat comparison. After all, every experiment has to have its controls to compare and make logical conclusions. Try that if you have time. That would be very interesting to see if there is a difference in the soil or not.

  9. Yeah, I am interested to see your garden too. Because I am too lazy to do all that drilling PVC working stuff. Yikes. I have a little planter and a little plant, and hopefully my stuff doesn't die. But I'm not too focused on gardening this year anyway since where would we put it?

    I've read in several places that the one thing you should never buy used is shoes. Because each person walks different, a used shoe can't form to your foot as well and can actually damage your feet/the way you walk. Not to mention fungi and weird bacteria that people carry on their tootsies. I don't mind gently gently gently used shoes for myself but if I am buying shoes for Toby I absolutely buy new since he is still relatively new to walking.

  10. Huh. I never knew. Of course, I go barefoot everywhere, so the fungi and bacteria thing doesn't really scare me. And the shoes I get are usually sandals or flip-flops with no support. But I can see how nice shoes, especially sneakers can be scary. So, fine. If I ever decide I have to have sneakers in my life I will buy them new. See? This is why I have you.

  11. Fancy dirt in poor countries is easy: they keep animals in their yards and basically compost their own. You don't have to worry too much about weeds in container gardening, especially with the plastic over it.

    I put pumpkins in a cardboard box underground last year and they did pretty well.


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