18 Plastic-Free Gardening Tips for the Eco-Conscious Gardener

18 Plastic-Free Gardening Tips for the Eco-Conscious Gardener

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So you’ve recently started gardening and discovered that plastic abounds in the world of plants. If you’ve committed to plastic-free living and are trying to detox from plastic, here are some useful plastic-free gardening tips to try:

1. Buy plants in biodegradable pots

Some nurseries sell seedlings and plants in biodegradable peat pots so opt for these instead of the ones sold in plastic. If there are no other alternatives and you don’t want to spend time and fossil fuels driving to another nursery, buy the plants in plastic pots and either return the pots to the nursery and just reuse them or sell them.

2. Opt for terracotta and ceramic decorative pots

When buying decorative pots for your favourite indoor plants, flowers and ornamentals, choose pots made from eco-friendly and natural materials such as terracotta and ceramic. These are a little more expensive but are made to last. Avoid plastic pots no matter how cheap as they tear and rip and eventually fall to pieces that pollute your soil.

Related Post: 7 Ways to Create a Moveable Edible Garden If You’re Renting

Photo: Dmitry Zvolskiy.

3. Use mulch made of natural materials

Instead of using weed-control matting made of plastic fibres which will break down into microplastics, use biodegradable mulch such as wet newspapers, cardboard, wood chips, leaves and hay.

Related Post: 10 Reasons to Mulch Your Organic Gardens

4. Use wooden popsicle sticks for plant labels

Aim for plant labels made of natural materials such as wooden popsicle sticks instead of plastic plant labels.

5. DIY toothpick plant labels

If you’re feeling ultra crafty, you can also make plant labels out of toothpicks and some old cardboard or paper and some glue (eco-friendly glue of course).

6. Make plant labels from twigs

Another idea for DIY plant labels is to make them from twigs. Just find some that are of suitable size and use a marker to write plant name and date.

7. Upcycle egg cartons as seed pots

Instead of throwing your empty egg cartons in the kerbside recycling bins, use them as biodegradable plant pots. They make great pots for seeds and seedlings and can be broken up easily and seedlings planted directly in the ground with minimal root disturbance.

Egg cartons make great biodegradable seed pots. Photo supplied by author.

8. Use cardboard toilet paper rolls as pots

You can also make biodegradable pots from old toilet paper rolls. These are ideal for seedlings and saplings and can be planted directly into ground without the need to remove the plant from the pot.

9. Use eggshells as plant pots

Another upcycling idea is to use eggshells as plant pots (if your household isn’t vegan that is). These are a cute idea and not only are eggshells naturally biodegradable, they also contain calcium which enriches the soil.

10. Start seeds with a soil blocker

Avoid plastic seed pots altogether and use a soil blocking tool such as the stainless steel Ladbrooke Handheld Soil Blocker that allows you to make soil blocks that you can pop seeds directly into and grow without the need for a pot.

Soil blocking using the Ladbrooke Soil Blocker. Credit: The Gardener’s Workshop.

11. Make your own compost

Instead of buying soil conditioners by the plastic bag from your local nursery, make your own compost and avoid the plastic waste altogether. Check out this step-by-step beginner’s guide on making home compost.

12. Save seeds when meal prepping

A cost-effective way to produce more plants is to harvest seeds from produce while you’re meal prepping and cooking. You can either pop them straight into the garden bed if you have room or dry them out before storing them in an envelope and popping them in your seed bank.

13. Regrow food from kitchen scraps

Some food like lettuce, celery, Asian greens and herbs such as parsley and coriander will regrow from scraps and stems. Save the ends, submerge them in a jar of water and keep by a window for sunlight and in a few days you should see new leaves sprout. If you’re having problems, check out this post to learn why you’re veggie scraps won’t regrow.


14. Use empty food tins as pots

The next time you use tinned beans or tomatoes, instead of throwing the can into the recycling bin, drill holes at the bottom, remove the paper label and use as plant pots.

15. Propagate from stem or leaf cuttings

Get free plants by propagating them from stem or leaf cuttings rather than buying from the nursery in plastic pots. If you’ve got indoor plants such as Pothos, Philodendron, Monstera Deliciosa and Umbrella plant or have succulent plants, you can easily propagate these from a cutting.

Related Post: 10 Ways to Improve and Replenish Your Soil for Edible Gardening Success

16. Use glass jars as vases

If you’ve got empty glass food jars, you can use these as vases for your plants. Just remove the lid, fill with water and regrow your food scraps in them or pop your plant cuttings in the jar.

You can propagate Monstera from cuttings. Photo: Brina Blum.

17. Use high-quality, plastic-free gardening tools and equipment

Avoid gardening tools that have plastic handles or feature plastic anywhere in its design. Instead, opt for premium quality gardening tools made from stainless steel and wood that come with a lifetime guarantee. Dutch brand DeWit produce a range of gardening tools such as hand trowels, forks, weeders and hoes that are made from European Ash hardwood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and solid boron steel. All tools are responsibly made in the Netherlands and come with a lifetime guarantee. You can also source second-hand gardening tools and equipment such as watering cans and pots on marketplaces such as eBay and Gumtree.

18. Source second-hand natural materials

Whether you’re building raised garden beds or a compost bin, make sure to build with natural materials such as wood pallets and other reclaimed timbers. You can also source some of these items second-hand and usually for bargain price. Just search on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist before buying brand new.

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Cover image via Shutterstock.

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