As the years of chicken keeping go on for us we have been shown all of the amazing ways that chickens and quail are excellent ecological choices for folks who want to do what they can to be environmentally friendly. Every year we strive to do better for our birds on the farm and better for our planet. In 2019 we moved the farm over to run on 100% clean renewable energy and began letting go of all of the plastic in our packaging so that we could help be part of the solutions that we all need to work towards if we want a healthy planet for our future generations to enjoy.
So where to chickens and quail come into all of this? Well, chickens are fantastic at turning food scraps and food waste into eggs and fertilizer. Did you know that an estimated 133 billion pounds of food waste go into the landfill each year? That is a staggeringly high number that could be greatly reduced by feeding our food scraps to our flocks of birds. Chickens can eat pretty much anything left over from your kitchen with the exception of bones, banana peels, citrus and avocado pits/peels. Putting a compost bucket with a lid on your counter will help remind you to scrape food into it and give it to your flock – they will consider the food a treat and thank you for it!
If you have space to keep chickens and or quail then perhaps you also have space for a worm bin or compost pile to help break down everything that the chickens cannot eat. We keep a second little compost can under our kitchen sink for the food scraps the birds cannot eat but the worms or compost pile can – this has helped us see a huge reduction in the amount of trash that goes into our trash can each week.
In 2018 we found out about the idea of “Zero Waste” which is a goal a lot of families have of generating no trash or recycling. They purchase only good quality things that will last so that less is thrown away in the long run and attempt to make everything themselves that they would purchase from the store. This process takes time but if you can get your family involved it can become a fun game!
Where does someone start with zero waste? Well, take a peek in your trash can at the end of the week and see what is in there. Are there things you can stop buying at the store that are single use that just get thrown away? Can you reuse any of the things you are tossing? Be a detective of your own spending and trash accumulation habits and see what you can shift up in your life. You will be amazed at what will unfold when you select a few items to try and cut out of your trash can for good! The items that come in single use packaging typically are not the most healthy for us and in cutting them out or making it ourselves we can improve our health and cut our monthly spending which means we do not have to work as hard and can have more time to spend with our families and friends.
When we started the zero waste journey for our home and farm we loved eating raspberries and each week when I would take out the trash I saw how many plastic clamshells were in the can. I did not want to give the raspberries up so we put up some raised beds and planted a raspberry patch. That patch is now a daily joy to spend time in with our children. They can free range and forage for berries throughout the day and whatever is not picked is made into jam and saved for the winter. We used to purchase jam and throw away the containers. Now we get to use mason jars over and over and have something that is home made. The kids get to spend time outside and we get more quality family time making the jam together. We had the initial investment of the beds and plants but now we will be saving a whole lot of money in the long run on purchasing the store bought berries which can add up quickly.
When purchasing things now I look at how it is packaged and ask myself if there is some work around. We pack out kids lunches in reusable zipper pouches that can be washed in the clothes washer, we bring our own glass Tupperware containers to the grocery store so the butcher can put cuts of meat in them. After everything is weighed the butcher puts the price sticker on the top of the container and we have saved that packaging. We buy as much as we can in the bulk containers and we bring our own reusable bags for that. The same glass Tupperware containers are stored in the trunk of our car if we go out to eat and have takeout. We use insulated tumblers for our coffee, tea and smoothies so we are not tempted to get the single use plastic cups when we are out and about. Our children are 6 and 2 and they know we are striving to create less trash so they are great about asking for things in packaging that are plastic free.
I would like to highlight the book “Zero Waste Home” which is a fantastic guide on how to begin to accomplish creating less waste. When we have less waste in our lives we begin to look around at our homes and see everything that is cluttering them. I used to spend hours cleaning our house each day on top of our farm chores and now we have really simplified what we have so that I spend less time cleaning, the kids can see the few good quality toys they have and we all spend way more time as a family outside together. The gifts a simple life gives us are amazing such as more family and prayer time.
Chickens and quail both provide excellent protein through their eggs and meat if you are raising your birds to eat. Having a garden along with your birds is a great thing. Any of the spend bedding from coops can be composted and then after it has broken down over time it can be used in the garden to fertilize it. The more we can create ourselves the less pollution is put into the air from someone else growing our food for us and it having to be trucked/flown from far away. Every little shift we make in our lives counts in the whole of a healthy planet – no change is too small. Starting small is sustainable, once we make one little shift then we have the courage to make another and another and before we know it – our lives look rather different, for the better! 🙂