A recent post I made regarding the terrible problem we have with the lack of resources available to recycle plastic nursery pots generated a great deal of interest. I ran a similar article in my syndicated column to stir the pot and raise awareness. Many readers responded from across the country with appreciation and comments. This is clearly an issue that is on the minds of a lot of eco-conscience people and I'm glad to see that. Now it's time to keep the momentum going and see what we can do about it. Here is a sample of the comments I received from my readers:
I read with interest your article, "Recycling Takes Root Slowly in today's Corpus Christi Caller Times. I completely agree that the companies need to make their pots out of the same materials so that their pots can be recycled. I have had our #2 pots for plants rejected by the Corpus Christi Waste Department's recycling program here--even though they do accept #2 plastics for everything else.
But the process should not stop there. Most mulch bags, fertilizer bags, and plastic bags that contain stuff for the ground are HUGE and cannot be recycled either. Here in Corpus Christi we can recycle plastic grocery bags, newspaper bags, and dry cleaning bags at the local grocery chain. Let's add the plastic bags that the gardeners use to that list. The gardener may be required to wash both the pots AND plastic bags in order to recycle them. But I am willing to wash them if the manufacturers would make them of recyclable materials and the receiving organizations would be willing to accept
CB, Corpus Christi, TX
Dear Joe, I read and enjoy your column regularly in the Durham Herald. I am a landscaping contractor with 30 years experience in the Orange, Durham county area. For all of the 30 years I have been asked by my customers about recycling plastic pots! As a contractor I can return 1 gal. and up pots to the nurseries (for a modest pot credit). But those damn 6 packs and small pots... I have tried the local horticulture class and the Seeds program of Durham, to no avail. I've also asked at the recycling center every year -also with no result. I regularly end up putting a full-size pickup worth of plastic (with recycling symbols) in the dumpsters. Many of my longtime friends in the business report the same frustrations. This is a problem that really needs to be addressed. Please keep up your efforts to standardize pots and increase recycling! I enjoy your column and wish you good luck in the future,
RP, Hillsborough, NC
I read your article this morning regarding what to do with empty plant containers. I work for a community college and they have a horticulture department and LOVE getting empty pots. They never have enough. If you contact your colleges/universities that have horticulture depart they will welcome you with open arms.
Janet L, Oroville, CA
More important that working on recycling, I think, is working for RE-USE. Recycling requires a huge outlay of energy and chemicals too, no doubt. Dunking the pots in a mild chlorine solution should sterilize them for re-potting. Some nurseries do this already where I live in Northern California. Generally, I think we need to re-use before we recycle. Thanks for giving a space to comment.
WB, northern California
Your article was brought to my attention and I wanted to let you know that we do take plastic garden pots (all sizes and shapes) and they all get recycled. Drop me a line and I would love to chat more with you and let you know what other options are available within our communities that people are unaware of. On another note, we along with the Exchange Club of Paradise are putting on the ridges first Zero Waste event at this years Blues and Brews, it would be great to do a bit how we can all enjoy good blues, brews, and food without trashing the environment.
JA, Recycling & Public Outreach Coordinator
Hey Joe, I just read your article in my local newspaper, here in Oroville, CA. I have a small budding greenhouse and have searched for larger pots to reuse for growing landscaping plants, with the goal to be able to have a small business once I retired. I bought a truckload full once, but other than that, have been unable to find the larger pots, i.e. 5 gallon and up, at yard sales, thrift stores, etc. Do you know if there is any way I could pick up these pots that no one else seems to want? They are expensive to buy new, and would love to reuse pots to run a 'green' greenhouse growing business. I'll send you my mailing address, as well as my email; if you would let me know if there are any possibilities of getting some pots, please let me know. Thank you for your article, and your help.
BR, Oroville, CA