I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we should all be using less plastic. From un-recyclable coffee cups to single-use cutlery, there are so many every day items that could be replaced for a more eco-friendly alternative.
Thousands upon thousands of tonnes of plastic are being dumped every year into oceans and landfills, where it drastically impacts wildlife and the environment. We could all do our part to reduce this damage – gardeners and plant geeks included!
Although we feel like we’re doing plenty of good for the world with our magic green fingers, a snoop around our potting sheds may reveal a different story. Plastic pots, bin bags, seed packets, plastic plant markers, and much more, are all contributing to the plastic problem.
So what’s the solution? Plastic-free gardening. Yes, it’s a thing!
What is plastic-free gardening?
Quite simply, it’s gardening without the use of plastic. And it CAN be done! After all, how did people look after their gardens before plastic was invented?
As we’re all starting to understand, plastic has a huge negative impact on our environment. In 2015, 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste had been generated. Only 9% was recycled and 73% ended up in landfills or in the natural environment. These figures are set to rise if current trend continue, with 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste ending up in landfills and the environment by 2050.
Thankfully, many brands are taking steps to reduce the amount of plastic they use and sell. Hopefully, this will make it easier for us to live plastic-free lives, or drastically reduce the amount of plastic we use.
5 ways to take part in plastic-free gardening
Pippa Greenwood has just introduced bamboo plant pots and saucers into their collections. Bamboo is an excellent alternative to plastic because it is fast growing and sustainable. Bamboo forests can be grown in a matter of a few years, and don’t need pesticides or other chemicals in order to grow.
Wooden plant markers
While plastic plant markers can be reused, many of them are just thrown away, adding to the planet’s waste plastic. Instead, use a biodegradable material like wood for your plant marker. This creates less work for you too, as you won’t have to remember to remove the marker after the plant has sprouted, because it will eventually decompose by itself.
These wooden plant markers from Not on the High Street are good for the environment and each displays a plant pun!
Manure as a fertiliser
Save on plastic fertiliser bottles and unnecessary chemicals by getting yourself some manure. Try to avoid the bagged stuff. In some communities farmers deliver manure for a small cost, or you can visit a farm or stable to pick some up for yourself.
Seed packets can be made of plastic, or contain smaller zip-lock bags which ultimately just get thrown away. Instead of buying seeds, try looking online for a community seed swap, or simply swap with a friend or neighbour!
If you live in an area where you can’t plant directly into the ground, or if you just need more soil, coconut coir is a good choice. Soil bought from garden centres, supermarkets or hardware stores usually comes packaged in plastic bags, and it doesn’t tend to stretch far.
Coconut coir is hydroponic, absorbing up to 10 times its weight in water – so a little is a lot! Although coconut coir does come packaged in plastic, you need much less of it, meaning it’ll last longer. Therefore, you’re using less plastic in the long run.
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.