Recycla got up bright and early this morning and after she drove her children to school at 7:45, was at the local Lowe’s (a big-box hardware store and garden shop) at 8 a.m. on the dot. Her mission was to pick up some tomato cages and a few plants. While some hard-core gardeners sniff at the thought of buying plants at a generic big-box store, Recycla is no snob. She knows that big-box stores and chic garden shops often get their plants from the same suppliers, so why would she spend more money for the same plants?
While perusing the plants, Recycla noticed signs letting customers know that they can bring their used plastic plant pots, trays, and tags/plant markers back to the store to be recycled into new ones. This delights Recycla, as most municipalities do not have extensive plastic recycling programs and therefore do not accept plastic from yard and garden products. Thus, a great deal of plastic ends up in landfills every spring. She is thrilled to see a big-box store showing eco-responsibility by accepting the old containers and whatnot.
Every year at this time, Recycla generates a lot of plastic waste, due to the vegetables and herbs she buys for her kitchen garden, plus the never-ending influx of flowers and shrubs. (Recycla will never be finished with her gardens — it’s all part of her master plan to garden until the day she dies.) She tries to reuse as much as possible — the smaller four- and six- packs can be used for seeds the next year and the larger pots are great for dividing perennials and sharing with neighbors. Still, many pots go to waste, as well as those plastic tags used to identify plants.
Luckily, more and more places are accepting plastic of all kinds, it’s just a matter of finding out where these places are in your community. In addition to Lowe’s accepting the plastic pots and tags, most Whole Foods stores have extensive recycling on site. You can also check Earth 911 to see what recycling options are available to you.
If you do reuse your plastic pots, it’s important that you clean them well before reusing them, so as not to accidentally infect your plants or seedlings with anything that might have hitched a ride with the old plants.
Tell the Eco Women: Are you planting much this year? If so, what? And what do you do with your old pots after you’re done with them?