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Plastic Free July: Removing plastics from the community garden

Plastic Free July is a global movement helping millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution. Over 100+ million participants across 190 countries have already been inspired to make a small change, collectively helping to create cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.

Anyone can join the challenge and say no to plastic this July, and to help Green Community Hubs ‘choose to refuse’ single-use plastics, we’ve put together 3 top tips for plastic-free gardening.

1. Plant Pots

Nearly every gardener has a pile of plastic pots, seed trays, and modules that accumulate over the years, many of which are made from the kind of plastic that can’t be recycled easily when they come to the end of their life.

They can, however, be cleaned and re-used many times over; you can use them to pot on growing plants, or to pot up divisions or cuttings and pass them on to others.

There are also plenty of alternatives to plastic when you need more or different sized pots:

Biodegradable fibre pots are great for seedlings as they can be planted straight into the soil. This prevents root disturbance as you don’t need to keep potting up. Meanwhile, wooden paper potter tools allow you to transform strips of recycled newspaper into seedling pots. And, even toilet rolls can make great seed starters.

For larger plants, terracotta is a great option as it allows for drainage through the porous material. Wooden planters can be built from old pallets or leftover planks, and steel or metal pots are fantastic for more permanent sites.

2. Compost Bags

Compost bags are hard to recycle but can be readily reused around the garden as rubbish sacks or liners for planters.

Community gardens with enough space may be able to buy compost, or other growing media such as mulch, in larger quantities or even loose loads which will drastically reduce the use of plastic.

But, of course, the best alternative to a compost bag is to make your own. To make good compost, you need a 50:50 mix of materials that are rich in nitrogen and carbon. Nitrogen comes from green materials such as grass clippings. Carbon comes from brown materials, such as woody stems and cardboard. You can also create your own leafmould by collecting fallen autumn leaves. Find a spot for a compost bin or bay and start collecting, you’ll soon have your own ready supply of compost.

3. Watering Cans and Hoses

Watering equipment is often very plastic-heavy, from vinyl hoses and entirely plastic irrigation systems to simple plastic watering cans. They can however last a long time and be re-used for many years.
 
However, metal watering cans, although heavier, have a much longer lifespan than plastic ones. Watering by hand with a watering can also has a trick of making us much more economical with the water we use!

Collecting water saved in butts or galvanized troughs around the garden by dipping a watering can in to fill it up is a great alternative to the plastic hose and tap. Its good exercise too!

What are your top tips for plastic free gardening? Share them with us on social media, we’d love to hear what others are doing. And, you can find our more about Plastic Free July below.

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