Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

GBMD & Plastic Plant Pot Challenge

As the cat
climbed over
the top of

the jamcloset
first the right

then the hind
stepped down

into the pit of
the empty

Poem - William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

I set myself a double challenge for today: not only to write a post for Shirl's Plastic Plant Pot Challenge, but to also find a corresponding poem about flowerpots for Garden Bloggers' Muse Day. I think I've just about been successful in my search for the latter, which reminds me of how Skimble and Jess react when there's empty pots around. I've also discovered one of America's most important modern poets in the process :)

Now to the first part of the challenge: Shirl is asking for information on plastic plant pots reuses and recycling. She's been in contact with her local garden centre which has a recycling scheme and persuaded them to make the pots available to local schools and organisations that might have a use for them. What a great result :)

I've been waiting for just such an opportunity to show you what's been happening down my way lately. Terry at The Botanic Nursery has been taking back all of the plastic pots from plants supplied by him for a while now and I was delighted to see last year that my local garden centre has followed suit. Terry reuses his pots and the garden centre sends them to Wiltshire's main recycling operator. In view of this it's interesting to see that plastic plant pots aren't part of the company's general household recycling collection - looks like something else to pursue with them (I campaigned for tetrapak recycling a couple of years ago and they've just reported over a million cartons were recycled in the scheme's first year of operation) - as well as taking up Shirl's challenge to get more reuse of the pots in the first place.

I've reused quite a few plant pots myself. I keep a large supply to hand for starting my garlic off in the winter as my plot's too wet for planting the cloves out directly. Loads are used for spring seed sowing too. I'm also using quite a few in both of my sheds as holders for tools and other such things that would just get tangled together in a large box. I also use some as 'watering pots' in the summer, sinking one in each of my summer containers, so that water gets closer to where it'll do most good, plus it reduces the amount of water I need to use in the first place.

Elsewhere, my local wildlife trust has a massive fund raising plant sale in the spring, so I donate lots of spare pots for that. I've also noticed this year there's been a sharp increase in the use of biodegradeable pots: my local garden centre has been taking herbs from the Hairy Pot Plant Company which uses coir ones. Then when I made an emergency purchase of squash and courgette plants in May - as my seeds had refused to do anything - I found two of my local DIY stores were selling plants in little cardboard pots, so they could be planted out along with the seedling. I hope this trend continues.

Thanks Shirl for coming up with this fun challenge and for kindly providing the image I've used at the head of this post. Now I'm off to see everyone else's contributions, especially if there are any other ideas I can nick use, as well as seeing what everyone's done for Garden Bloggers' Muse Day over at Carolyn's :)


  1. Fantastic VP!! Thanks so much for joining me with this. A brilliant contribution… exactly what I hoped for with a few links for people to take their pots and the bonus of re-uses too which has been great fun to search for :-D

    I’ll mention a few in my local area too but I’m also just adding straight links to the centres/nurseries I’ve discovered. I’m happy to give them a plug when they are helping this cause. You can see before your link how many I managed to stay awake long enough to add last night! I contacted WRAP and they’ve given me a list of councils too although I have to check each out now to make sure they are current.

    Didn’t know about the garlic so hope others get your idea for that too. Like you, I’ve used pots to store things in my shed. I’ve also heard of the re-use as a watering reservoir filled with small gravel/grit.

    I asked for suggestions on message boards too and I loved the suggestion of donating them for plant sales. It’s even better that your wildlife centre benefits from yours too. Just brilliant :-D

    See you for OOTS :-D

  2. Thanks Shirl :)

    And thanks to you I've found out that my local garden centre has an environmental policy. I'm planning to give them some feedback on it (e.g. reusing pots) and to post about it later.

    It's also worth looking at How Do I Recycle This? linked in my sidebar for further ideas.

    Looking forward to seeing what you come up with for OOTS :D

  3. Enjoyed your post VP. I have set myself a treble challenge - GBMD, ABC Wednesday and Shirl's plant pot challenge too but I am still working on it !

  4. Thanks VP, and Shirl for this responsible take on those plastic pots that seem to multiply overnight under my deck. Our local recycle is now taking ALL plastic, including those pots. This is a big step forward, it used to only take certain numbers of plastic. We barely have any trash on pick up day now with all the recycling we can take advantage of and the good old compost bin. Another use for those pots is as forms for the many concrete projects I have been working on. They really come in handy for holding things upright or as forms themselves.

  5. Jamcloset?! I remember reading something by WCW in high school, and liking it, but it wasn't this, which I like more. :)

  6. Great post, VP! I've never been a big fan of William Carlos Williams, but I do like this poem, particularly since my cats seem to like any kind of empty containers:) I use many of my empty plastic pots for seed sowing and other uses as well; two of the plastic six-pot carriers (they come with handles) have become handy carriers for my garden utensils. But there always seem to be so many more pots than I can possibly use! A local garden center held a recycling day this spring, but then I discovered the nursery in my own town takes them all the time. Now I can easily drop them off there whenever it's convenient. The only problem is, I'm not sure what they do with them then...

  7. Thanks for providing this info -- I believe we recycle such pots here in Nova Scotia already, but now that you've brought it up, I'll be checking. :) Wonderful poem for GBMD!

  8. I seem to be the recycling plant pot place for most of my neighbours who leave them by my gate.

    I don't like to say no as I have acquired some lovely pots over the years but I am getting a bit over run. however I still run out of certain sizes at peeek times so perhaps I won't recycle any just in case.

  9. WCW can be quite fun. Very much enjoyed the poem. Happy GBMD.

  10. Anna - and I see you managed it with aplomb :)

    Frances - palstic recycling's so variable in this country. Locally I can recycle plastic types 1-4, but most plant pots aren't marked with a number, so it's hard to tell what can and can't be recycled :(

    Monica - in my research of WCW I found some student pass notes which suggests he made up the word jamcloset to suggest a closet absolutely packed with loads of stuff. That's why the cat's being very careful! The poet's new to me, but I certainlt enjoyed this discovery :)

    Rose - I can see this poet could get put in the 'difficult' category, but I like what I've found out so far and understanding where he fitted in with the Beat poets. I'm glad you've found a convenient recycling point. It might be worth asking them what happens next? Luckily I could find out via my garden centre's website as they have clear information on that and their environmental policy.

    Nancy - thank you and I hope you find you're correct in your thinking re Novia Scotia and its recycling!

    Joanne - that happened to me too, so I was glad to find a home for lots of my spares via my local wildlife trust.

    Curmudgeon - thank you and it's good to see you again :)

  11. In Ontario, a major local grocery store (that has a small garden centre) will take back your plastic pots. If you bring in 25 they will give you a $5.00 rebate towards your next purchase. I am not sure if they reuse them, but if they don't, they can recycle them.

  12. Deborah - welcome! :)

    That's a really good idea about giving customers an incentive to bring the pots back. We have (and have had) similar schemes here in the UK - particularly with reusing plastic bags and returning glass pop bottles - but nothing re pots as far as I know.

  13. We recycle the plastic pots at the garden center where I work, VP. Thanks for taking this worthy cause on.

    Thanks also for joining GBMD with your usual great selection.

  14. Hi Carolyn - if only more garden centres took the enlightened approach that yours has.

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