Plastic Free Gardening at Tor Garden PlantsHere on the nursery we are working hard to reduce the amount of plastic we use and our aim is to make the nursery as sustainable as possible. It is not an easy task as running a plant nursery has always relied heavily on the use of plastic in the day to day. From seed trays, to plant pots, to labels, compost bags, trays and packaging. Many items are only single use and not recycled in household waste collection. It is estimated that the horticulture industry produces around 500 million plastic pots per year. So what can we do to reduce this?
Well we have started by making the decision to sell all of our plants bare root. This means the majority of our plants are grown in the garden, needing less watering, feeding and plastic pots. They are then dug up or de-potted, ready to send out to our customers, wrapped in damp paper to protect the roots. As long as these plants are potted on or planted outside when they arrive, the plants will thrive. It reduces the amount of plastic sent out in to the environment, lowers the weight and size of parcels due to there being less compost needed, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint in the delivery process.
We back this up by only using biodegradable packaging for our mail order service, so everything you receive alongside the plants can be recycled.
Around the nursery we are trialling lots of alternatives to plastic pots and I will talk about these in more detail and update you on their progress in upcoming blogs. We have swapped plastic labels for wooden labels and I am really pleased with how these are weathering around the nursery so far. My husband Tom has been making wooden seed and carry trays. Of course we still use some plastic, mostly items that we can keep reusing within the nursery without buying more, making sure it is not just for single use. Over time I hope these will be recycled and replaced with plastic free alternatives. The industry is now coming forward with new ideas and alternatives but it is still quite slow in getting them to wholesale level, producing large numbers for nurseries. I think things will really start to change in the next few years. For now it is all a learning curve and is mostly about being open minded to trying new things. Not all will work as well as plastic or be as affordable, but some items will be just as efficient. That is my hope anyway.