We have called 2019 our ‘plastic year zero‘ – we have taken a narrative that ‘from 2019 it is now illegal to sell single use plastic as a product or packaging‘
Its a huge leap for us a company to do this, our idea is to take all plastics out of the equation when selling to customers and strip plastic and fossil fuels use to the absolute minimum when it comes to how we work. Nearly every element that we have done as a shop and nursery has some plastic content… pots, compost bags, packaging for feeds etc. We know that the plastics industry is desperately trying to mitigate what has been a PR nightmare for them with a growing awareness of unnecessary plastic use.
As a company we say take plastics out of the selling system completely… but don’t deny the benefits careful use of plastic can have as a productive tool, it is not a case of ‘green-wash’ for us, we are looking at every element of what we do from our suppliers being aware of our demands regarding packaging to how we deliver – including increased use of bikes by us to visit customers to replacing our van with a electric vehicle. Our shop signage will now be handmade, we will not produce plastic stick in labels but offer wooden ones, we have so much to change but these are our key areas..
If we take pots as a example… what we have to except is that no alternative container material exists for growing the plant on from seed, cutting or bareroot. Plastic is the only option for us as a nursery to do this and we have collected 1000’s of pots from you (our customers) with our in-house recycling scheme. We have tried growing in coir, earth block growing, cow dung pots and wooden pots and they are all unsuitable for commercial use, we will continue to grow the plants in our normal way but when we sell the plant we will remove the plug/plant with root and earth from the pot and prime with Mycorrhizal fungi put in a recycled and compost-able paper sleeve to be planted (completely) within 1 week of purchase. The pot returns with us to nursery for re-use. We think we can get around 8 years of use from a pot.. as a nursery we can get the pots recycled within the industry. At the moment only 10% of councils take pots for recycling. We see bamboo, rice and taupe pots as another problem waiting to happen.
Composts and Mulches
We are starting a compost ‘Bag for Life Scheme’ – Last year we sold over 40,000 litres of compost. All of it split in to 50l bags, all of these bags were un-recyclable. When you buy compost from us in 2019 the initial purchase will be the same compost, same volume at the same price. The difference is it will come in a resealable ‘bag for life’ in a handy cube shape, bring the bag back and you will be able to buy the compost for less the price of the bag and we will exchange it for another bag (no waiting for it to be filled).
Feeds, Seeds and Liquid fertilizers
We are going to be transferring this to a weighed or volume system. Our small seeds already come in paper sleeves but our seed potatoes and onions will be sold by weight in to paper bags or your own container. We will not be doing any products in nets.
When you purchase feeds it will be sold in refillable Kilner style jars which again will be cheaper when you refill on return.
Bare-root fruit trees and soft fruit
When you buy a bareroot tree the dormant plant is sold in the depths of winter with no pot or earth surrounding it, it should be the perfect plastic free product. In fact when sold they are wrapped in a large amount of plastic and are expensive to send due to volume. What we will be doing is returning to Hessian wrapping our plants and not mailing our plants. In the summer when the trees are potted they will be wrapped in Hessian within the pot and removed at point of sale.
Christmas trees will be sold this year wrapped in Hessian, our potted Christmas trees will be sold in our wooden pots.