Reducing the use of plastic is all the rage at the moment, and for very good reasons. Making a commitment to reducing plastic in the garden has many benefits. It will not only help the wider environment, but will help you become a more self sufficient gardener. In the long run, it could even save you money.
There is a surprising amount of plastic used in gardening, from plastic plant trays to cable ties that keep bamboo canes together and even microplastics in some fertilisers. Every little helps and your contribution in the form of reducing plastic in the garden is just as important as any. Big corporations tend to try and avoid reducing plastic as it is cheaper than many more eco-friendly alternatives. So what you do counts!
Why Is Plastic bad?
Plastics are extremely damaging to the environment:
- Plastic takes 450 years – 1000 years to decompose.
- It is made from unsustainable products.
- Animals are injured and even killed by plastic waste, especially sea life. Many unknowingly ingest it or get caught up in it and suffocate.
Did you know, every plastic toothbrush you have ever used is still on this earth? It’s pretty hard to swallow. The importance of reducing plastic waste in every area of our lives is vital if we want to live in a cleaner and more sustainable world, living happily alongside the wildlife that inhabits it.
Plastic really is everywhere. Reducing plastic in the garden may seem like a daunting task, but fear not! It is possible. We’ve highlighted some key sources of plastic waste in the garden and come up with some ways of reducing plastic in the garden.
Products Sold In Plastic Packaging
You may currently buy plant food in plastic bottles. Although these bottles are often recyclable, plastic can only be recycled a certain number of times. It is therefore best to find an alternative all together to plastic-packaged plant food. Look out for plant food in cardboard boxes which is 100% biodegradable.
An even better alternative is using an all-natural plant food that alleviates the need to buy plant food at all. There are a number of items that are probably already in your kitchen that can be used as plant fertilisers
- Bananas – a great source of potassium for plants.
- Blackstrap Molasses – rich in lots of nutrients such as magnesium, calcium and manganese.
- Coffee Grounds – particularly useful on acidic plants such as evergreens and roses, containing nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash. You can use these out of your coffee machine or pick them up for free at many local coffee shops.
- Epsom Salts – popular for popping in your bath, epsom salts can also be dissolved in water and sprayed onto your plants to give them a shot of magnesium and sulphur.
This one has a simple solution – make your own compost instead of buying it! Composting is a very rewarding experience for any gardener. It will also help you reduce food waste as well as plastic waste. Make sure you invest in a wooden compost bin rather than plastic, as this rather defeats the point. Check out our how to compost guide to find out more about how to get started.
Similar to the above, you can reduce the waste from plastic packeted mulch by making your own. You can do this by collecting dried leaves over autumn and shredding them to use as mulch during spring. Grass clippings and pine needles are also good mulching materials.
The Biggie – Plastic Plant Pots
Plastic plant pots – they are everywhere at garden centres, and as a gardener it seems impossible to get away from them. Almost every plant in the garden centre comes in a plastic pot or tray.
One way to alleviate the problem is to take some plant pots you already own to the garden centre, and leave the plastic pot it comes with there. Alternatively, you could stop buying plants in plastic pots altogether. Opt to grow from seed or only buy plants sold in non-plastic containers.
If you simply can’t get away from plastic plant pots, reuse them. As mentioned above, use them when you pick up new plants from the garden centre. Or get creative. There are many different uses for plant pots other than holding plants. Some ideas are using pots to organise smaller items in your shed or garage, and using plastic trays to hold breakable Christmas decorations.
Many nurseries have schemes where you can return your used empty pots and plant-carrying trays. Make sure to check your local nursery before carting a car-full there. If your council already recycle plastic pots, tubs and trays, they will also accept any non-black plant pots.
Recycling is a last resort. Although it is better than throwing it away, recycling uses energy and thus still contributes to the wider problem. It is much better to come up with a creative idea to re-purpose your pots or donate them than recycle.
Reducing plastic is an important step in securing a healthy future for our planet. You can do your bit and start reducing plastic in the garden by making some small changes. You could make a big difference in making our planet a better place for us as humans, wildlife and nature as a whole.
Megan works in the Primrose marketing team. When she is not at her desk you will find her half way up a hill in the Chilterns
or enjoying the latest thriller series on Netflix. Megan also enjoys cooking vegan feasts with veggies from her auntie’s vegetable garden.