It’s not a pretty picture.
As a gardener, I’d like to think I’m one of the Good Guys when it comes to tending our planet. But in fact, to my shame, I’m contributing to the huge problem of garden plastics every time I buy a new plant.
My friend Beth Botts, an award-winning garden writer, has become one of the fiercest voices in support of change within the horticulture industry. As she writes:
“… the gardening industry—all the growers, breeders, fertilizer companies, mulch producers, landscapers, everybody in the behind-the-scenes supply chain—depends entirely on plastic—some 320 million pounds of plastic a year, according to a 2004 estimate from the Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences in University Park, Pa.”
I tend to stockpile my pots. I reuse some, as I “step up” smaller plants into larger sizes. Some I put in my recycling bin. I’m hoping that my local botanical center can help spearhead a garden plastics recycling station.
But that’s not enough. As Beth says:
“A plant may have been transplanted two or three times as it grows before we buy it, and every stage of growth takes place in plastic. A 1-gallon perennial may have required two or three or four pieces of plastic before it reaches a garden. Even a six-pack of annuals can involve at least three pieces of plastic: a plug tray in which the seeds were started, the cell packs the sprouts were transplanted into and the carrier in which the cell packs were carried to the garden center.”
As gardeners, it’s our responsibility to make change happen. We need to be sure more places offer recycling options, such as the great one offered by the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association and Choice Plastics. And we need to tell the so-called “green industry” that we expect them to make changes so that in the future we’re not buying that new rose in a eco-damaging plastic pot.
Read Beth’s entire post on her blog, Growing in Chicago.
I’m standing with her when she says,
“It’s our buck they are all chasing. That gives us leverage. Let’s use it.”