Plastic Free Garden
If you’re on social media you find lots of posts about reducing plastic at home and in your daily routines but most people never think about reducing plastic in the garden. In my opinion, plastic does not belong in the garden since it does contain harmful chemicals.
Every stage of the plastic lifecycle has an impact on human health — from wellhead to production, from store shelves to human bodies, and from waste management. The effects continue with the impacts of microplastics in the air, water and soil.
According to the report, 99% of plastic comes from fossil fuels. The extraction of oil and gas, particularly hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, releases an array of toxic substances into the air and water, often in significant volumes. Over 170 fracking chemicals used to produce the main feedstocks for plastic have known human health impacts, including cancer; neurological, reproductive, and developmental toxicity; impairment of the immune system; and more.
Gardeners also have opportunities to avoid using an abundance of plastics. Here are several steps for residents to decrease plastic use when gardening:
- Start by building your own wooden composter from discarded pallets. By creating compost, as well as taking your own containers to your community’s Environmental Days during their free compost giveaway events, you can avoid buying fertilizers in plastic bags. Here is my post about building your own compost bin.
- Soil is a major component of a healthy garden and instead of buying soil that usually comes in plastic bags, make your own soil and you can learn more how to build your own soil here.
- If you are a new homeowner, you may be the lucky recipient of surplus hoes and rakes from relatives who are downsizing; otherwise, find what you need at secondhand stores and garage sales. When purchasing new items, you have the option to go plastic free! Choose gardening tools with wooden handles and metal ends. If your yard is small, there is no need for a plastic hose when a metal watering can that won’t become brittle and break will suffice. Avoid black plastic, as that color is difficult to recycle. Inquire whether the plastic tools you admire are manufactured with recycled content. A name to look for in quality gardening supplies including many small plastic-free tools is Lee Valley.
- If you wish to smother weeds before planting, use pieces of flattened cardboard or layers of newspaper instead of purchasing plastic sheets.
- Seedlings can be started in toilet roll cylinders (snip and fold one end to form a base) or use egg cartons, both of which can be placed directly into the soil. Beth Terry with My Plastic-Free Life talks aboutOrta’s seed pots, which are self-watering and plastic free.
- If purchasing seedlings from a greenhouse, ask if they will start them in wooden flats to be cut out and wrapped in newspaper. Select wire hanging flowering baskets set in coconut fiber. If you do acquire seedlings or plants in plastic containers, ask if they can be returned for reuse. Most garden centers will accept plastic hanging plant baskets, should you be given one as a gift; otherwise, rinse out and place in your recycling collection if they are accepted in your region.
- Tomatoes, beans and peas require support. For these types of plants, use wooden stakes or wire cages.
- Popsicle sticks or crafted wooden markers make ideal name tags. Also, look for sturdy cloth gardening gloves.
Growing a garden gives you effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint by eliminating the necessity of purchasing produce and flowers wrapped in plastic.
Our garden is a zero waste garden and you can learn more how to garden without waste in my post about that here.