My pledge is to grow more of my own vegetables sustainably at home by building wicking beds out of primarily recycled materials. Growing your own food helps to reduce our environmental footprint by eliminating transport and packaging requirements, and often uses less water and energy than industrially produced food. Furthermore, it can be cheaper than buying vegetables from the supermarket in the long-term.
Wicking beds are a type of waterproofed planter where soil is suspended above a layer of water, allowing plants to draw water up through their roots as required, as opposed to relying on rainfall or irrigation. This reduces the amount of water required for successful growth, suppresses weeds by keeping the topmost layer of soil dry (thus negating the need for herbicides) and improves plant health by maintaining consistent moisture levels. The primary impediment to wicking beds is that typically they require large amounts of new plastic in order to waterproof the planters, and they are more expensive than typical beds.
I have recently helped to build a traditional wicking bed and have observed its effectiveness – particularly in growing leafy greens that can be difficult to manage in Australia’s hot, dry climate. My proposal is to see if recycled wine barrels (cut in half) can be used as a way to create effective wicking beds while increasing the usage of recycled materials and reducing cost. Wine barrels would negate the need for expensive, energy intensive plastic to be used for waterproofing, and reduce the overall cost of the wicking bed itself. Furthermore, if the idea is successful, it could be adapted to other used items, such as metal drums or even bathtubs.
As such, I think my pledge could contribute to various sustainable development goals, most notably: 2) zero hunger, by increasing people’s ability to grow nutritious food, 6) clean water, by reducing water usage required for food production, 12) responsible consumption and production, by reducing usage of environmentally costly products (particularly herbs and leafy greens that are typically packaged in plastic) and 13) climate action.