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Gardening…Not So Green

It is one of the greenest industries but also one of the most un-eco-friendly. How is this possible? Welcome to the world of gardening. Designed to enrich one’s surroundings with plants and trees, in reality, this industry has some of the most harmful environmental practices. An article by the Chicago Tribune titled “Push is on to green up the gardening industry” reveals how plastic is being thrown away and not recycled at gardening centers and at the homes of consumers who purchase from them.

Plastic is the problem. Most flowers and other plants come in plastic trays, pots, and flats that do not indicate they are recyclable and that most garden centers will not take back to recycle. The article features the stories of many frustrated gardeners who have been turned down at the door when they asked the stores to recycle. Unable to recycle, they were forced to throw the plastic away. This last-resort practice contributes to millions of plastic pots accumulating in landfills, never to be reincarnated.

The reason for this mass exodus of plastic? Simply, cost. Plastic pots are cheap to produce, cheap to ship, and easy to store and display. But with millions of flowers being bought and planted each other, tons of plastic is being wasted.

In order to mitigate this waste, consumers are urging gardening centers to recycle. And this may be happening quicker than expected. With rising oil prices and the threat of a diminishing supply of oil in the horizon, it is in the best interest of the gardening industry as well as other businesses to implement recycling programs to help offset costs and waste. Besides recycling, representatives of the Illinois Green Industry Association are pushing for a biodegradable pot that can disintegrate in soil. It may be a while before this idea is put into practice, so for right now recycling is the best option. The time has come for each industry to be scrutinized for its polluting practices, no matter how ‘green’ they claim to be.


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