I like to think I am pretty green when it comes to not using plastic- I take my own material bags to the supermarket or use cardboard boxes if available, try to buy stuff in glass rather plastic containers,never buy fruit and veg wrapped in plastic,avoid plastic bottled water,use containers and beeswax covers instead of cling plastic and no longer buy takeaway coffee.
I often feel quite smug about the amount of effort I put in, that was until a few weeks ago-
I was cleaning up my potting /nursery area in the garden and was shocked at the amount of plastic I had lying around.
Plastic bags from potting mixes, mulches and organic fertilisers, liquid fertiliser containers, hundreds of plastic seedling punnets and thousands of plant pots with their labels, plastic coated wire and frames and bird netting with holes in it.
Where had it all come from and more importantly what was I going to do about it.
It really was undoing all the effort I was making in trying to reduce my household plastic.
So, I needed to work out firstly how to recycle what I could and secondly how to avoid all this plastic in the future.
Plastic pots -I will reuse these where ever possible as they are not able to be recycled with your normal household plastic containers, however some councils and nurseries have a plant pot recycling system where they organised for them to be reused. Any broken or cracked ones go into landfill.
The plastic bags from garden product. I could find out very little about how to recycle these, just the following reference saying that they are not recyclable, this company does offer a bag return system, though I have not been able to find anywhere locally that offers this service. http://www.jeffries.com.au/bag-return/
Plastic fertiliser containers. Again, not able to be recycle in normal household plastic recycling but there is a company that recycles them http://www.agrecovery.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/AG-Brand-Owners-all-programmes-Nov16-email.pdf
The old plastic coated wire frames, which had rusted through, I was able to recycle.
Labels, plastic coated wire unfortunately had to go into landfill.
The bird netting, I have decided I will repair this and reuse as again the only place to dispose of it was land fill.
Now I must work out how to avoid all this waste plastic in the garden in the future.
Here are a few of the things I plan to do.
Minimising plastic plant pots– stop impulse buying plants – I do not need more plants. What I often buy are filler plants and I can propagate all the plants I need- it takes a bit longer but it will be worth it. Where I want to grow plants on I will use terracotta pots.
Eliminating plastic punnets. This just takes a bit more organisation and something I have been wanting to do for some time to reduce the cost of my vegetable production. So, I need to concentrate on direct sowing any vegetable and annual flower seeds that I can and where I need to use seedling use a recycled product like toilet rolls to make seedling pots. I do not buy newspapers so do not make paper pots which are another useful way to make little seedling pots. I could also source or make wooden seed trays for mass production.
Eliminating plastic bags from garden products. I am considering buying potting mixes and mulch in bulk to eliminate plastic bags and I am also going to try making my own potting mixes from compost, sand and coir peat. This may still produce some plastic but a fraction of what I would have if buy the premixed potting mix.
Labels. Instead of buying plastic plant labels I am going to start using wooden paddle pop sticks which I can pick up from a craft store.
Plastic coated wire. This is simple I will use hessian string instead, which is much better for plant anyway- no risk of ring barking or cutting into the plant.
Plastic coated wire frames/cages. I am going to try and make my own frames from fallen branches and twigs.
To stick to this list is going to be a challenge but something I am determined to try and do.
We all need to be aware of the waste we produce and if we only make one or two changes to our consumption or buying habits we can help reduce waste and reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in the environment.
Wish me luck and if you have any ideas of how to reduce plastic in the garden let me know I will always be looking for ideas to implement.
Happy green gardening.