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How I got here

This website has been a long time in the making.

I have been trying to eliminate plastic from my garden for about a year now, after one day last January when I walked through the gate into my veg garden and realised all I could see was plastic.

It isn’t a material I love at the best of times: it is blaring, ugly, and messy. It an unattractive habit of splitting and splintering at the slightest excuse.

But then I stumbled across a video of albatrosses on Midway Island, in the Pacific Ocean, choking on bits of plastic that had broken up and floated into the ocean looking for all the world like little fish. Except they were lethal.

I hated that I had any part in this. That day I resolved to reduce and if possible eliminate the amount of plastic I use; and first in line was the place I use most plastic of all, in the garden.

Plastic is undeniably useful in the garden: and I have really, really struggled to get my use of plastic under control. In trying, I have discovered several things.

Not using plastic involves a different way of gardening. I refer back to Victorian methods when in doubt: after all, they gardened rather well without using plastic (though they’d have loved it if they could have got their hands on it, I’m sure).

Plastic isn’t always the best material, despite what they’d have us believe.

Plastic substitutes are better for the environment than plastic; but not much.

There are some things you can’t substitute: I haven’t found a sensible alternative to fruit cage netting, for example.

And some things are only available if you have a lot of time and a lot of room: I am still struggling to generate enough compost to make my own potting mix and therefore eliminate all the plastic baggery that comes with bought-in compost.

But I’m getting there: and it is a subject I feel increasingly passionate about. So much so, in fact, that I’d like to try to change things more widely in the horticultural world, if I can. So I thought I’d put together this website, sharing the research I’ve done and the methods I’ve developed, as well as spreading the word about people I know of who do sterling work cutting back on plastic use and trying to garden more ethically.

In time, I hope it might expand into a kind of one-stop shop for non-plastic gardening stuff, so it makes it easier for anyone who wants to to garden without succumbing to the plastic pox that’s infecting our gardens. But that’s all in the future.

For now, I’m just going to bang on about it a bit, and hopefully convince everyone who gardens that they don’t, in fact, need plastic as much as they thought they did. Care to join me?

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The video that started it all

Need a good reason to ditch the plastic in your garden?

This is the video that made me decide I couldn’t justify it any more, on any grounds.

I came across it after listening to a speech in 2015 by the wonderful Emily Penn. This inspirational lady had been doing something about the terrible scourge of plastic in our oceans long before I had even heard about it, and even longer before David Attenborough drew a watching nation’s attention to the issue in the wonderful BBC1 series Blue Planet II. That seems to have done the trick, mind you, and finally, at last, everyone from government downwards is sitting up and take notice.

Anyway, I was trying to find out a bit more about what I’d heard about. I clicked on this video, and what I saw shocked me to the core and broke my heart. I have never forgotten these images.

I warn you: only start this video if you are feeling strong. It is, quite simply, terrible to watch.

MIDWAY a Message from the Gyre : a short film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.