2018: No-Plastic-January

A Happy New Year to all from us at Brighter Blooms!

Each year starts with a (sometimes new) list of wishes, aspirations or concerns. What will be the star performing Zantedeschia in 2018? What will 2018 bring to the grow-your-own movement, what famous new face will join the existing enthusiastic alotmenteers this year? What will 2018 bring for Brighter Blooms?

On a personal level, we decided back in 2017 that our January 2018 challenge was going to be ‘No-Plastic-January’. That means we will not buy anything that is either wrapped or in any way packaged in plastic, or that is made of or contains plastic. We have exempted medication. We were delighted to be joined in our quest by friends Niall and Anne-Marie and Jamie and Hattie!
A third of the way into the month, and we can safely say that a ‘no-plastic’ philosophy limits your purchases to a rather drastic extent! You can also note that people look at you with puzzlement (or pity in some cases!) when you buy a loaf of bread, and do not put it in a plastic bag, but straight in a fabric bag. And having to explain you have the tin of tuna in your bag – for lunch, because you’re doing a no-plastic-January can be fun! By and large people say ‘Oh!’ and smile politely when you explain that the reason of whatever odd thing or behaviour is your ‘no-plastic-January’ pledge. But alongside the benefits of sending less content to landfill, the benefits to our bank balance so far this January cannot be understated.

What makes it easier is having the allotment (even in winter!) and our chickens. There is a lot less in the way of food we have to buy from shops. So we only get tins, jars (with metal lids) and food wrapped in tin foil, paper or cardboard. It is a revelation to realise just how difficult it is to avoid plastic, especially when it comes to food!
From the business perspective, although horticulture can perhaps be classed as one of the ‘greener’ industries, there still is some use of plastic, when operating at a larger scale. So we started by thinking about where do we use most plastic. And we decided that one thing for us to look at would be the use of compost, which is currently delivered in 50l plastic bags. We are now looking into the feasibility of bulk buying compost and reducing the plastic in this way.

Another way we are trying to find a way around is the use of plastic carrier bags. Horticultural businesses have been exempt from charging for plastic bags, but this may change in future. For us, this is currently the biggest challenge. While we would love to be able to use paper bags, the weight and volume of Zantedeschia pots combined with the probability that pots and compost will be wet, rules paper bags out. If you have any thoughts or suggestions over how best to minimise the use of plastic carrier bags, we would love to hear from you.
But there is one thing we can do. The two events to be held at our nursery this year will be sustainable and we will try to stay as close to zero waste as it will be possible:

– we will encourage everyone to make use of carrying materials recycled or re-purposed
– plastic bags will be charged for and all the proceeds will be donated to an environmental charity
– for our charity fund-raising café we will not use disposable cups or plastic cutlery
– paper plates and napkins will be recycled on site

We hope to see you at our nursery for our Potato Day on Sunday, 18th February, 10am – 2pm and the Brighter Blooms Tulip Open Weekend 14th – 15th April 2018, where you can tell us your stories of No-Plastic-January!