The journey to a plastic free nursery - one year on.It is the nurseries one year anniversary since opening. It has been a great year, where I have learned so much to put into practice going forward. When I set up the nursery I decided to reduce the use of plastic and work towards being plastic free in the future. So how easy has it been and what have I learned this past year?
Firstly I would say it is not an easy task, but we have persevered and found ways to reduce our use of plastic. Our mail order side of the business sells plants bare root so no plastic pots required. I wrap the plants in hessian and post out in completely biodegradable packaging even down to the parcel tape. I think this has been a real success and we have had positive feedback from our customers.
Around the nursery itself I have found that plastic pots are still the most hard wearing. Bamboo fibre pots are heavy and tend to break if dropped. Coir only lasts about a year max before breaking down. Therefore I decided I would re use the plastic pots for stock plants at the nursery and then transplant into coir pots when they are heading to a plant fair or on to customers. That way no plastic leaves the nursery. Any new pots I need I buy the taupe colour pots which can be recycled in household recycling. The taupe pots are a huge step forward for the horticultural industry and many nurseries are now using them.
For water plants it was challenging finding something that will survive being sat in water, transported and last for a few years. Plastic baskets have always been used for pond plants but they often get brittle and break after a few years. I am happy to report that I have found two types of pot that are biodegradable, made from recycled plastic bottles and last between 3-5 years. I trialled them all last year and I think they are great and now recommend them to all my customers. The two companies are 'RhizoPots' and 'Root Nurse'.
I have ditched plastic labels and replaced with lolly pop wooden sticks. They only last a year before needing replacing by I am happy to do that, as a freshly written label always looks better then a faded one anyway.
I have made huge steps towards being plastic free but there is only so far you can go at the moment until the industry catches up. For example we had to recover our poly tunnel last year. Only a plastic replacement is available for this job. We recycled the old plastic but had to replace with new. Seed trays, propagators etc still very much plastic at the moment but these can be reused every year by washing and sterilising.
In a year we have made huge strides to becoming plastic free and garden more sustainable and I will continue to trial new products and ideas going forward and see where we are this time next year.