It feels weird to only have one day to celebrate the Earth. Every day should be Earth Day. As a plant lover, there are so many things I appreciate about nature. The satisfaction when a new leaf unfurls, sharing cuttings with friends, seasonal blooming flowers, farmers markets and locally grown produce — I could go on.

To honor our planet, I try to prioritize sustainable practices as often as possible to reduce my carbon footprint. That’s why I am so enthusiastic about propagating, composting and reusing supplies every chance I am able.

The chop and prop

Propagation is the easiest sustainable way to grow your plant collection. There are many different ways to propagate and regrow multiple plants from just one, so you may never need to buy another plant ever again! (Just kidding, go support your local garden centers.)

The good ole chop and prop is one of my favorite propagation methods. Cebu blue pothos, monstera Peru, and philodendron Shangri-La are a few of my favorites to chop and prop in water. These trailing plants have easy-to-spot nodes (where roots can grow) that make it clear where to chop.

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  1. Start by finding a good section to snip off.
  2. Once you have your cutting, remove the lower leaves so only the stem is remaining.
  3. Place the fresh cutting in some water and wait for the magic to happen. Be mindful to change the water every few days to keep the cuttings fresh.
  4. Eventually, you will see roots starting to grow. When the roots are about 2 inches long, you can take them out and transplant them into soil. Make a whole new plant by repeating this process, or gift it to a friend so they can grow something new!
(Courtesy of Ryan Rhodes)

The proper poop

Fertilization is crucial for a thriving plant collection. There are a lot of fertilizer options out there, from synthetic water soluble solutions, to earthworm castings and bat guano. (Who would have guessed that I’d be spending all my money on bat poop?)

What if I told you that fertilizing can be free? I think it’s safe to assume you have some coffee, eggs or bananas somewhere in your kitchen. The vital nutrients in those common household waste products are very beneficial to plants.

There is nitrogen in the coffee grounds, potassium in the banana peels and calcium in the eggshells. And if you use ground coffee, the coffee filter is a good source of carbon too!

Here’s how to use each one as fertilizer:

Banana Peels

  1. Soak the banana peels in an airtight container full of water.
  2. After 24-48 hours, remove the banana peels from the water (and put them in a composter!)
  3. Next time you go to water your plants, add a cup of the banana water to your watering can.


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  1. Keep your leftover egg shells and let them dry out.
  2. Once they are dried, grind the shells into a fine powder.
  3. Sprinkle the powder onto the soil for an added boost of nutrients for your plant.

Coffee Grounds

  1. Keep your leftover coffee grounds and let them dry out.
  2. Add to the soil of your plants (specifically your acid-loving plants, like hydrangeas and camellias). A little bit goes a long way!
(Courtesy of Ryan Rhodes)

You grow, girl

It can feel like a constant cycle: Your plants keep outgrowing your pots and you constantly need to re-pot them into new ones.

A great hack here is keeping a handful of old nursery pots tucked away for when you need to upgrade plants into a bigger home. Recycling and reusing what you already have is a great alternative to buying new planters, and you can save yourself a little bit of money too.

Also, anything can be a planter if you try hard enough. Go thrifting in your garage for some makeshift planters and you might surprise yourself with what you can find! An old wooden toolbox would make a charming option to plant some succulents in.

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Being a sustainable plant parent doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. By adding these simple hacks to your gardening routine, you can reduce waste and help make the Earth a better place one new cutting at a time. Make haste for zero waste, because Mother Earth deserves it!

Hilton Carter is a plant and interior stylist, artist and author from Baltimore.

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