Reducing plastic waste on the farm - how can we do it!???
Hey everyone, I've been too busy to post much the past couple of days. I've been working a lot both in the greenhouse and in the field. I can't keep up with everything, but as long as I just keep it steady, I'm pretty sure everything will eventually come together like it is supposed to. Anyway, I told myself I was gonna take just a few minutes this morning to write about something I've been thinking alot about lately.
Even on this little farm I generate plenty of plastic waste. I look in my trash shed and there are three large contractor bags (ironically also made of plastic) stuffed full of plastic. That's not including the plastic I've hauled off to the dump. I'm looking for ways to reduce plastic waste on the farm! Here's what I'm doing so far:
I really don't like the little 6 packs of cells....
This machine is great, it uses cardboard, 264 cell plug trays that break apart into a chain and run through the machine to be transplanted perfectly (theoretically) into the field. It doesn't work for everything but it is pretty amazing and really cuts down on the plastic usage. Once the pots have served their purpose, they compost into the field or I can add them to my compost pile.
"Peat pots" instead of cell packs
Cell packs are the worst. Besides being flimsy and marginally useful, they are really not reusable and definitely not recyclable. My mom found these 3" x 3" peat pots and we tried those instead. They work great and our customers at the farmers' market appreciate them as well. You can plant the entire pot in the ground for minimal root system disturbance (although I usually tear the sides back just as a force of habit). Sorry for the crooked picture!
Cotton burr mulch instead of fabric or plastic
Back east I used landscape fabric or plastic and planted through it, but here in Taos I just mulch with cotton burr compost instead. I don't have a picture for this one but you get the idea! The weeds get through a bit more but the weed pressure is much lower here than back east. And the soil can connect with air and breathe more.
Repurposing old containers
It's a bit of extra work but I have been getting recycled containers from around town and then sterilizing them and reusing them. These type of pots will actually last many seasons. If I sell them at the market, then I can hopefully talk the customer into donating the pot back to another garden or reusing it next year.
This stuff might seem pointless in regards to the devastating levels of plastic pollution our planet is facing right now. Our oceans and marine life are literally choked with plastic waste. But I would rather not be a part of the problem as much as possible. I still have a long way to go and am learning everyday ... but these are the early steps I've taken. What do you do to reduce waste in your farm or garden?
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