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5 simple ways to cut down on your garden plastic usage

11th January 2019

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Make your plot more eco-friendly by moving to plastic-free gardening

Many growers are becoming more conscious of the impact of plastics on the environment. Cutting down your use of these materials in the garden is a fantastic way to do your bit for the planet and to help local wildlife, too. Here are some simple changes to make that you can adopt for your growing routine for the year ahead and beyond!

1. Upgrade your potting practice
Pots and seed trays are one of the main sources of plastic in the garden – especially buying new ones each year. If you already have some stored away in the shed then be sure to keep them in good condition and wash thoroughly before reusing. A good habit for the future would be to start using terracotta pots or similar, which are much better for the environment. For seedlings, there are many biodegradable options that can be planted into the soil which will break down as the plant grows on. You can also make your own newspaper pots, or start plants with long roots in cardboard tubes.

2. Sharing solutions
If you have purchased lots of plastic-based tools and equipment for your garden in the past, make sure that investment hasn’t gone to waste. If you use a community allotment or have friends who also enjoy gardening, why not share those pots or watering cans to avoid them being thrown out when you buy new ones? It will massively benefit the ecosystem to recycle the plastic and you’ll be comforted by the fact that you and others have benefited, too.

3. Find plastic alternatives

With a rising demand for more environmentally-friendly solutions in the garden, it’s definitely worth exploring the options that allow you to live a more plastic-free lifestyle. Instead of buying plastic plant markers, why not re-use washed lollipop sticks or paint the name of the crop onto a large stone and place it close-by? Instead of buying plastic watering cans or waterbutts try investing in metal ones, and search for glass cloches instead of plastic types. Instead of buying bags of compost, why not make your own by setting up a heap in your garden? You can also avoid plastic compost bins and construct a pallet-based structure. Swap cable ties with twine. Try to avoid polyethylene and polypropylene-based netting in future. These are all solutions which will make a difference and can be adopted time and time again.

4. Start from scratch
Gardeners often end up with a leaning tower of plastic plant pots originally from seedlings they purchased from the garden centre and planted outside – leaving just the empty plastic pot that isn’t wanted or needed. This is one reason it can be better to sow seeds yourself if you have time, and grow crops from the very beginning. Sprinkle seeds over home-made compost in a wooden seed tray and you are well on your way to having a plastic-free garden. Although you might have to wait for perennial flowers to produce blooms in the second or third year of growth, it is well worth the wait. It also means you know that the flowers and edible crops you are growing on the plot were not treated with any pesticides, making your gardening habit completely eco-friendly.

5. Spread the word
All gardeners should be aware of the impact that plastics have on our environment. Sharing tips to reduce your consumption with fellow allotment holders and friends will have a positive effect on this growing movement. Tell others about the changes you are going to make and perhaps they will inspire you with their ideas. Perhaps you could organise a group search of the allotment site and local area to collect any litter?

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