First of all, let me begin by saying that I take a practical approach to reducing plastic use. I am of course fully aware of the problems with plastic. But I also know that it can be a very useful material. I do have plastic in my garden – most notably, my polytunnel. (Around five years old now and still in great condition.)
A polytunnel does, of course, come with a carbon cost. But actually, careful analysis can show how using one to grow food year round rather than buying from abroad can result in a lower carbon footprint for an individual or household over time. (In addition, it is worth noting that the metal frame will generally have a higher carbon cost than the cover. A glass greenhouse with more framework is not always a greener option.)
I also reuse plastic pots, and utilise plastic containers here and there. I am realistic about the fact that plastic can come in handy, But reducing unnecessary plastic use in the garden is a top priority.
If we are not careful, home growing efforts can leave us wading in a sea of plastic. From plastic plant pots, to plastic mesh or netting, to plastic twine, to plastic tool handles – these items all take a toll on people and planet.
Here are some steps I take to reduce plastic use in my garden:
- Grow from seed (ideally buying these in paper rather than plastic packets), cuttings and divisions, rather than buying plug plants or plants in pots.
- Use soil blockers, biodegradable plant pots, or household waste rather than buying new plastic containers for seed starting.
- Utilise organic pest-control methods. Increasing biodiversity and ensuring a natural balance, and companion planting can reduce the need for netting/ row covers or other physical barriers.
- Using old sheets/ natural fabrics instead of horticultural fleece.
- Making use of natural twine rather than synthetic options.
- Choosing tools with wooden handles rather than plastic ones where possible.
- Making my own plant labels/ garden markers from twigs, stones or other natural materials.
These are just a few examples of the steps we can take to reduce plastic use in our gardens. If you would like more tips to help you go plastic free, please do not hesitate to get in touch.