Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Reduce Plastic Consumption by Reusing Plastic Containers as Plant Pots

The base of an old vacuum cleaner used to grow chives in

Reducing plastic use is incredibly important for the world in which we live. Over the year, I plan to give lots of tips on to how we can do this, but this week I want to talk about reducing our use of plastic in the garden, and specifically in planting.

A tragic byproduct of the plastics industry is a phenomenon known as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This vast expanse in the North Pacific Ocean, in fact, twice the size of France, has become the largest landfill in the world, and is made up of plastic. Every year it kills millions of seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals. So it is vitally important that we all do our bit to reduce the amount of plastic we use.

To find out more about The Great Garbage Patch, and a new expedition that aims to make us reassess our relationship with plastic, read Richard Grant's article for the Telegraph.

Root trainers made from Tetra packs and large yoghurt pots
If you visit any garden centre, you will see rows and rows of plastic plant pots, and plastic seed trays, and folk with armfuls of these, eager to start the new planting season. But ask yourself, is all this new plastic really necessary?

Here at Bridge Cottage, I have not had to buy plastic plant pots for years, as I reuse all my old plant pots and recycle as many food containers as I can to use in the garden. I have even been found rumaging in the bin in the staffroom at the school where I worked for empty milk cartons to use as plant pots.

 Those plastic containers that have fruit such as grapes in even have plastic lids that can be used an mini propogators. Larger containers such as sweet or biscuit boxes are great for sowing lots of big seeds in. I used this Celebrations tin for broad bean seeds this year. 
Don't forget to wash the containers well before use, and put some holes in the bottom for drainage, taking care not to put holes in yourself!

I add a double layer of newspaper to any clear containers to stop the light getting through to the roots. The paper can be planted in the garden as it soon rots down.

Don't forget, once you have planted your seedlings in the garden, wash and dry the containers and store away in the shed for next year.

So, whilst plastic cannot biodegrade, at least it can be recycled, and by doing your bit you will be helping the environment, both on the land and at sea, and at least save money on binbags, and space in your wheelie bin!


  1. I can testify to the effectiveness of tetra paks as seed trays - just transferred some peas from one into the garden. It drives me mad that garden centres sell all their plants in plastic pots. The one place you might hope would be a little environmentally friendly is actually one of the worst plastic offenders!

    1. Well said Joanna! Tetra packs are great for all sort of plants - I transplanted my tomato seedlings into some today. My peas are currently in the greenhouse in recycled guttering! Oops I should have added a photo of them in the blog. Nice to hear from you x

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  3. Good for you, Rory! Good to hear from you :)

  4. wow your ideas about green are just amazing. Love your ways of Recycling Plastic Containers by converting them to gardens and flower pots . they help surroundings look cleaner.

  5. You have share an amazing info!! Thank you !!
    plastic planters

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