Life

Gardening advice: Five ways to recycle your plastic and help wage war on waste

A bee wall created by Barnoldswick in Bloom

1. Get creative: In Britain and Northern Ireland we use over 35 million plastic bottles every day – but with a bit of imagination, they could find a home in your garden landscaping and help cut down on waste sent to landfill.

The town of Barnoldswick in Lancashire, a competitor in the RHS Britain in Bloom competition, re-purposed two-litre fizzy drinks bottles to create a spectacular wall of pollinator-friendly planting for bees, by turning the bottles on their side, cutting out an opening and filling with compost and plants such as nasturtiums, aubretia and lobelia.

When using plastic bottles or other containers for growing, don't forget to add a few drainage holes to let air get to the plants' roots and avoid waterlogging.

2. Turn bottles into cloches: Discarded plastic drink bottles also make great cloches, which act as mini-greenhouses to protect tender plants from the cold and deter pests such as rabbits from nibbling at young seedlings. Cut the top off the bottle and place over the plant.

3. Reuse pots: Plants bought from garden centres are often supplied in plastic pots, although alternative materials such as coir, paper or bamboo are increasingly available. Consider reusing these for seed sowing and repotting, rather than buying new. Just rinse out with warm water and detergent before using again, to kill off any diseases.

Or you could use mushroom and tomato supermarket containers as seed trays, airtight Christmas chocolate containers to store seeds and small plastic bottles as cane toppers.

4. Pass things on: Think about setting up a plant-pot recycling point on an allotment or other community hub, where gardeners and schools can drop off any unwanted pots for others to pick up and recycle.

5. Make it fun: Follow the lead of Britain in Bloomers St Helier in Jersey, which gets local green-fingered school children involved in transforming rubbish into inventive floral displays, using materials such as broken wheelie bins, to complement their plantings. This year, schools will be creating their displays from washed-up plastic collected from the community's beach clean-ups.

:: For more information about the RHS's work in communities, including Britain in Bloom and the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, visit the RHS at rhs.org.uk/get-involved.

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