Zero Waste Gardening: Tips for Sourcing Containers

Plastic plant pots

Eco-friendly gardeners should do all that they can to reduce the waste they generate. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for gardeners to reduce their waste impact on our planet. One major area of concern when it comes to waste are the large number of plastic plant pots and containers that are used (and thrown away) each year. The good news for green gardeners is that is it fairly easy to create and maintain a container garden without contributing to the global waste problem. Here are some tips to help you source containers as you move towards zero waste gardening:

Choose biodegradable plant pots rather than plastic onesAvoiding Obtaining New Plastic Plant Pots

Plastic is an insidious problem – one of the biggest when it comes to waste. One of the main problems for gardeners trying to avoid owning plastic containers is that many of the new plants we purchase come in plastic pots.

One of the best ways to avoid bringing new plastic pots into your home is to move towards growing your own plants from seed, or propagating your own plants, and away from buying plug plants or potted plants.

Where you do need to buy plants, try to select bare root options that come without plastic pots, or source plants from friends, family, neighbours, or others in your community.

Those plastic pots that you already own, you should try to reuse for as long as possible, and do your best to prevent them from ending up in landfill, or polluting the environment.

Plastic packaging plantersReusing Food Packaging

Reusing packaging in the garden is one great way to reduce the number of new containers we have to buy, and can also help you reduce the packaging that must be thrown away. It is practically impossible to avoid all packaging, but by reusing packaging, we can help reduce global waste problems.

Ski boot upcycled as planterReusing Other Household Items

Those who have been successful in eliminating (or significantly reducing) food packaging from their homes can still find ways to re-use old items as containers. For example, old footwear, kitchen items and even old furniture can all be re-purposed for use as containers for plants. Other items that might otherwise have been sent to landfill can often find a place in your garden as raised beds, containers or plant 'pots' for your garden.

Soil blocks - no need for potsUsing Biodegradable Plant Pots

When planting seeds, those looking to move towards a zero waste lifestyle can choose to eschew plastic pots or trays, and instead use biodegradable plant pots, such as those made from coir or cardboard. Zero waste gardeners can also use old toilet roll tubes or cardboard boxes, make their own pots with papier maché, or even opt for a soil block maker and do away with the need for seed trays or starter pots altogether.

Of course, direct sowing rather than growing in pots is also an option, as is choosing to grow direct in the ground rather than in containers. However you choose to grow, avoiding plastic and thinking carefully about each new purchase will help you move towards a zero waste lifestyle.