Reduce plastic consumption in the garden is an idea that may be getting overlooked.
About two years ago I wrote an article with some ideas on how you can recycle some regular household items at your allotment or in your garden. Fast forward two years and that message has changed from recycle plastic to don’t use plastic in the first place.
Using less plastic is the buzz-phrase of 2018 and I couldn’t agree more. We’ve had the stone age, the bronze age and now we’re in the plastic age. It’s everywhere and there’s no getting rid of it. So it’s understandable why this message has changed.
Speaking from experience, I often hold myself in a high regard environmentally and believe that I’m doing my bit by having an allotment, and I suppose I’m doing more good than bad – but in reality I’m not without plastic sin, like so many others.
I’m in the midst of trying to reduce my plastic consumption in my everyday life and then it got me thinking about the plastic that we use in our gardens and I came to the realisation that the garden is a place whereby we can drastically reduce our plastic consumption the easiest.
So here’s my top 10 suggestions for reducing plastic in the garden or at the allotment.
Ditch plastic labels – replace with wood
I’ll confess, I’ll place a plastic label in the ground identifying plants and crops and I’ll forget about it and find it a year later.
Instead of plastic, we can use wooden labels which in my opinion, look nicer and are biodegradable. As you can see here they’re quite reasonably priced. I think eating my weight in Magnums might be more fun than ordering off of Amazon though.
One suggestion would be to sand off the writing and re-use if you’d still like to save yourself a penny or two.
Ditch plastic pots replace with with terracotta
Gosh, whatever happened to the use of terracotta pots. I’ve got dozens of plastic pots at my allotment and hardly any terracotta pots. I’m yet to look or elaborate on the benefits of terracotta over plastic, but the most obvious benefit is the material one. Terracotta smashes, yes, but it eventually breaks down. I think you also get a lot more variety with terracotta posts in terms of design.
Ditch plastic seed trays replace with homemade seed starters
There’s loads online about making you’re own seed starters, which can make for a great alternative to a plastic seed starter tray. The most common and trusted method used by the gardening community is the use of the toilet rolls. Richard from Sharpen Your Spades has also published this easy to follow tutorial about creating using toilet rolls as your seed starters. Check it out here.
Make your own potting compost (or order in bulk)
This tip focuses on eradicating the use of plastic bags at the allotment. There are two ways you can do this. You can make your own potting compost – if you’re not sure on how to do this, then check out Anne’s method from her blog The Micro Gardener. The second method is to order your potting compost in bulk from your local builders merchants or garden centre. It’s a more of a dent to the wallet, but it will last longer than you think. In some cases, you can return the jumbo bag at the builders merchants for re-use.
Avoid polyethylene or Polypropylene based netting
This is a tough nut to crack. Most netting on the market are made from polyethylene. Now polyethylene will biodegrade eventually when put under certain conditions. I’ve done some research online and jute netting can make for a natural alternative, but generally is unlikely to keep the butterflies at bay. So If you can get hold of netting made of cotton like this, then you’re onto a winner.
Use a metal watering can (can plastic watering cans be recycled?)
Yep, this is a pretty obvious one. Metal watering cans will last a lifetime – where as plastic cans can go brittle and eventually shatter.
Replace plastic water butts with metal tanks or drums
Old household water tanks make for great water butts – I never know where you get hold of them other than knowing someone who’s getting a new boiler installed or a local plumber who’s getting rid of one. It might be worth calling your local gas man or plumber to see if they can help out. If you don’t know you local gas man, then look to Ebay or Amazon – you have to love Amazon, because you can buy empty metal oil drums here.
Use a pallet compost bin rather than a plastic one
So plastic compost bins aren’t as bad you think. Most of them are made from recycled plastics – you may even find the plastic recycling code on it too if this is the case. Earth 911 has information about recycling codes if you’re interested. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that they’re plastic. A Pallet compost bin is great and easy alternative to a plastic compost bin.
Ditch the cable tie
As useful as they are and easy to use (and I’m just as guilty as the next person) these little plastic ties are up there with the straw, micro-beads and glitter. You use them once and then throw them away, which is a terrible thing for the environment. I’m not even sure if these are recyclable? Anyway, biodegradable twine or jute will do just the same job as a cable tie.
Make your own bug repellents
This tip is all about using less plastic bottles and sprays. I know what you’re thinking… I’d be buying 4 bottles of something else to make one bottle of repellent. Well it’s not actually the case as the homemade bug sprays can be made out of things you’d probably buy anyway (probably). Anyway, here’s a really good video showing you how to make your own natural bug repellents. Enjoy.
So there we have it – top tips for reducing plastic consumption in the garden.
Do you have any top tips for reducing plastic in the garden? If so, I’d love to hear what they are in the comments below.
Featured Image by Mary Greene on Pexels.