Cutting the Plastic in Your Garden

If you’ve seen fields covered with compost made from the contents of our green bins, you’ll have seen that our gardens are certainly not the plastic free havens that we might like to imagine. Compost bags, plant pots and plant labels so often end up with the rest of our garden waste in our green bins, and from there they persist through the composting process and end up polluting the soil. Whilst the effect of plastic in the ocean is now well documented, the effect of plastic in the soil is largely unknown.

There’s plenty we can do about it.


Compost – save money, help the planet and avoid hauling heavy sacks from the garden centre by making your own. You’ll be avoiding plastic bags, making the best use of your garden and food waste and giving a fantastic habitat for invertebrates like worms.

The Royal Horticultural Society have a handy guide here:

If you’ve a big project planned, then Thompsons of Crews Hill will delivery loose soil improver onto your driveway:

Use big pots of your own compost for growing your tomatoes rather than gro-bags – they look nicer too.


Pots – it’s almost impossible to buy plants except in plastic pots (although check out the Hairy Plant Pot Company plants in coir pots at Notcutts), but that needn’t mean that you can’t enjoy new plants ever again. Growing your own plants from seeds and cuttings is surprisingly easy and very rewarding and often means that you have a few extra plants to share with your neighbours. Look out for plants grown in reused pots at car boot sales and open gardens, and if you have plants that are spreading in your garden and need digging up to curtail them, then pot up any spares to share.

You can use your own reused plant pots for your cuttings and seedlings, you can reuse yogurt pots and other packaging, or you can make your own biodegradable pots from old newspaper. Take a look at how to make these square paper pots that will use all the space in your seed tray and encourage healthier root growth than a round pot:

Plant pot amnesty– If you have an accumulation of plant pots that you’re never going to use, then local plant nurseries Ayletts say that their customers are always welcome to bring in their unwanted plastic plant pots to their reception desk and they will recycle them with their own plastic pots and trays. They will putting their plant pot/tray collection crates outside their shop for July to encourage more people to recycle them.


Plant labels– rather than those sterile packs of plastic labels, you can get really creative with your plant labels. Make your own from lolly sticks

There’s some lovely ideas from the Micro Gardener here:


And finally, if you do use plastic in your garden, then make sure that none of it ends up in your green bin.

The photo was taken of a field where plastics had polluted the composted green waste that was spread on the field – every bit as bad as a polluted beach. So separate plastic out and put it in your landfill bin instead – or better still, take rigid plastic items like old garden furniture to the household waste disposal site where they usually collect it for recycling there.

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