Time to take the plastic spoon from our mouths
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” This is an interesting time to be alive.
Maybe you picked up on the message sent this past week by the results of the election. Maybe you care. Maybe you’re no longer confused about your desires to alter the paradise you’ve built around yourself. Maybe you’re no longer a maverick and find swimming with the prevailing current in this country enjoyable.
I remember 35 years ago, sitting in a grade school civics class and being spoonfed the forecasted limitations of our world. Amazingly, perhaps frighteningly, Mrs. Garfield’s forecast was pretty much on the mark. At the time, her message wasn’t paralyzing. She did a pretty inspiring job of conveying that we could solve our problems in a win-win manner.
Forty years later, though, and we still need to get serious about using good principles of land stewardship.
Listen, this is pretty easy. Let us, together, today, directly influence our world. I’ve got a few informed ideas. Here’s a couple:
Start a revolt. Demand that temporary plastic containers be eliminated as the container in which plants are grown, shipped and marketed. At the time of purchase, hand the plastic back to the cashier and ask for a 5 percent discount. Take your plants home in a reusable or re-used bag that you brought. Seriously.
Be realistic, not militant. Don’t expect a discount, yet, because small retailers don’t control production and shipping logistics. And, large-scale retailers can’t respond mid-season to the mood of consumers, but they will alter production and shipping if they have to deal with a growing pile of plastic at the checkout counter ” the larger the pile, the louder the message. Nothing is going to happen unless consumers take a stand.
Use recycled paper and fiber pots that decompose in one growing season when planted right into the ground.
Utilizing the same technology that is used to make cigarettes, there are paper pots that weigh less than plastic ” cutting the amount of fuel expended in shipping.
Currently, these pots are primarily used inside the industry, grower-to-grower, in the production of starter plants. With minor modification to displays, they can be utilized equally well by garden centers. At your home, they are easier to plant because the root system is held together by the paper pot as you plant it. The pot simply rots.
Coco-fiber pots are also excellent substitutes to plastic. They are made from the husks of coconuts used in making coconut oil. Coco-fiber pots grow outstanding root systems, and, again, are easier for you to plant.
You may ask why these paper and fiber pots haven’t been introduced to the buying public.
Paper and fiber pots require more water during production. However, absolutely affordable changes in production methods exist that prevent the increased consumption of water caused by the use of breathable containers.
Plants can be grown and shipped in re-usable plastic trays that cut water consumption to the same levels currently used in today’s production. At the end of the season, trays can then be returned by retailers to producers at the same time delivery carts are picked up. It’s pretty simple. Plastic consumption can be cut by the end consumer, and it can be cut for plant producers.
Paper and fiber pots tend to grow algae on the outside of the pot. It’s ugly. Get over it. You’re getting a better set of roots and easier planting. You can’t have it all, but you can spend less on oil if you can consider the algae a green beauty mark as opposed to a blemish.
Plastic isn’t all bad. Ask for hanging baskets made of recycled plastic as opposed to fiber or moss hanging baskets. It dramatically reduces the amount of water that evaporates from containers used at your home. Use recyclable plastic liners inside clay pots, or, better still, use glazed pots. They conserve water.
A plastic revolt is not a subversive act. The horticultural industry has been researching new methods of production since ” well ” forever. They are waiting for you, the consumer, to speak loudly and give them a direction. If consumers from 28 states reject temporary plastic containers, I’m betting the horticultural industry will make some changes.