Spot the plastic pots

Okay… perhaps not too hard a challenge 😉

Game over… let’s move on to the much bigger challenge of what to do with the growing stack of unused plant pots likely lurking in corners of your greenhouse, shed or garage at this time of year. Does this look familiar?

No product placement intended at all in the photo above… honest! Often I plan links but this wasn’t one. I didn’t notice the label until I cropped my shot. I did give a smile though. So, with evidence now, you can see that Dobbies is one of a number of garden centres in my local area that I frequent from time to time…

On a visit last September I noticed a wooden storage unit just inside the exit of their Perth Store. Used plastic plant pots were inside it. At the time I emailed the manager to ask what was done with them and when they were collected. He replied:

“This is an All Year round commitment offering this service. We collect the plastic and add it to our own store generated plastics and polystyrenes. This is then compacted here on site and sent through a third party to be recycled.

This service is now available in the vast majority of our larger stores Nationwide if not all.”

Great news, they were being recycled and on a wider scale too! However, I do remember at the time thinking this was a slight shame that charities, schools, clubs and people with little spare cash couldn’t benefit from this free collection.

Last week I enjoyed email chat with quite a few people through my blog. The week started off with a photo of hedgehogs. Forget the stacking of pots… have you ever seen so many hogs at one time?

Thanks, Martyn and Jill for allowing me to share your photo 😀
I am always thrilled to get feedback on my postings especially when it means I’ve helped others to enjoy the wildlife in their gardens too. Oh… and guess what? This photo led to Martyn & Jill starting their own blog. As you might… expect I chatted lots about blogging too 😀

Sparrowhawks were next up on my email topic list. Oh… but I’ll come back to that one though! Great stuff to come there 😀 However, last week I found myself thinking about all the jobs I should be doing in the garden, pottered a little… yep and you’ve guessed it… came back to the question of recycling plastic plant pots. Who takes them now?

Knowing that Dobbies had been doing it last year I decided to ask Ian at the new Dobbies Blog what the current situation was on this. He in turn, asked their Eco Champion, Graham (yes Ian, that is a cool job title). I was delighted to hear that plastic pots are being reused now as well as being recycled… exactly what I hoped. Graham says:

“As part of its ongoing commitment to the environment, Dobbies offer their customers the chance to return their old plastic plant pots for recycling. We ask that these are free of soil and compost. There is a box in each centre where customers can deposit these old pots which are later shredded and the plastic reused or they are offered to schools or charity groups who re-use them in many different ways.”

Collection box at Dobbies, Perth.
Thanks, Graham and Ian 🙂 I do believe Dobbies has other plans that may be of interest too so I look forward to hearing about them in the future. Of course, I am located in just one small part of Scotland and there are many, many Garden Centres here in the UK and around the World too.

Do you know of somewhere that collects used plastic plant pots? Oh yes… not just Garden Centres… perhaps your local council or recycling centre takes them. I’d like to extend this question to all visitors both inside and outside the UK too.

Just a thought… no pressure at all on other bloggers (I know what this time of year is like for posting) but perhaps you might want to share what you do with your unused plastic plant pots in a brief posting. Perhaps you have great tips for re-use?

Remember the Desert Island Plant Challenge? So many people got involved with that one. What a blogging buzz there was that day… enjoyed by all! So… just how ‘hot’ are plastic pots?

Okay… perhaps I’ll leave you an invitation below just in case you fancy joining me with this one… please feel free to use the image below. I’ll set up Mr Linky on my posting if anyone wishes to add a blog post link. Perhaps you might be able to pass around the word too/instead… that would be just brilliant 😀

I completely understand the chances of repeating the success of the Desert Island Plant Challenge is unlikely but if even if just a few visitors discover an outlet for recycling unused plastic plant pots that they never knew about then I’d deem this a great success 😀

If you’re not a blogger you can still join in by leaving a comment here or on my posting on September the 1st. Alternatively you could drop me an email and I’ll add your info in my posting. I am now wondering just how widespread the re-use of plastic plant pots actually is… this will definitely be an interesting one to hear about 😀

Wishing you a great weekend meantime! More gardenwatching, wildlife videos and garden updates next time 😀

All photos above were taken in my garden between August 24-26th 2009 unless otherwise stated.

29 thoughts on “Spot the plastic pots

  1. Very interesting about the pot collections… I’ve never noticed a box at our local Dobbies… I just happen to be going this Saturday so I will check if they have one. I much prefer that they are reusing their pots and to be honest I feel they ought to reuse them all unless broken/damaged.

    I have nice piles of pots just like you… Only mine aren’t so neat or clean! Ha ha, I really need to sort them out, I get confused though because I know some have spring bulbs in them still so don’t want to throw the soil away… Hmmmm poor excuse, I know 🙂

    In general I do re-use mine a lot for growing seedlings and such, however the pile is ever-growing as I buy in more than I re-use.

  2. I, also, have an ever growing pile of empty plastic plant pots. Some are used for sowing seed but many are just cluttering up the greenhouse. I know a local garden centre was taking them last year but haven't seen any mention this year.

  3. I wish my pile of pots was as restrained and tidy as yours Shirl!

    I don't think we have anywhere locally that does things with plastic pots, most people I know give them to me (sigh).

    I have been reading/thinking/looking in to biodegradable Vipots, but it works out more expensive.

  4. Hi there Liz, yes this is one of these ones that you don’t consider… until you do!!

    Ah now… perhaps all Dobbies stores don’t provide a box that is visible… but still provide a collection box. I visited another store in my area and they didn’t provide a box. I asked at the information desk and they told me you could leave them at a desk in an area where they provided help.

    No sign was in either area (that I could see) in the two stores I sampled. Perhaps I should mention this to Ian. I would hate people to take them to stores at the weekend and find nowhere to leave them 🙂

    LOL… not all my pots are clean… some washing will need to be done before I leave them for recycling. Before I do though… I’m interested to hear how others may re-use theirs 😀

    Have a great weekend. Will be interested to hear of your weekend visit… perhaps on Tuesday 😮

  5. Hi again John, ah… join the club. Yes, seed sowing and cuttings are likely to be the most popular ones for re-use I’d think 😀

    Ah… unfortunately you can shut the door on a shed and the pots are pretty much out of sight (until you trip over them!) but with a greenhouse they are visible and seem to grow more… the right conditions perhaps… LOL

    Ah… it would be great to hear if your ‘local’ was doing this now. Perhaps, they don’t advertise they take them as so few bring them… chicken and egg perhaps. Signs would be good with an obvious collection point that everyone passes by.

    If you do happen to pass by your ‘local’ over the weekend it would be great if you could ask and I'd add a link for them on Tuesday… or perhaps you could add it to the end of your posting instead. No pressure at all, it would just be fascinating to see how many collection points we could ‘collect’ between us all 😀

    Have a great weekend 😀

  6. Hi again Karen, careful editing, careful editing… LOL 😉

    In reality, this was exactly how this corner looked in my shed when I went in with my camera… although I do suspect there were a few gone AWL 😉

    That’s a pity there isn’t somewhere near you in Wales that collects unused pots… except yourself!! How about your local council or gardening club would they not take them off your hands?

    Now, yes there’s a thing. I got so distracted with research for this posting (hence it took so long before I started writing it late last night) and came across biodegradable pots a few times. Although I suspect until costs come down with products like these (or the garden centres take the hit for the difference) we won’t see them appear at the sales tables for a while yet.

    If you do come across any collection points on your travels… I’d be interested in hearing about them. I am guessing you don’t have a Dobbies near by but perhaps you might have a Wyevale store which also may have a collection point. They have four stores in Wales 😀

    Have a great weekend 😀

  7. Nice plants in the plastic pots. I avoid plastic pots as far as possible, and use the cheaper clay pots which are useful even when they are broken or cracked.I don't know how long there will be a supply of these.

  8. Hi there lotusleaf, great to hear from someone in Bangalore, India 😀

    Good point about clay pots, I would imagine you have some stunning ones in your garden. Here, in my area of Scotland, frost can be an issue during winter and clay pots can crack. However, I do reuse them too… broken up further and placed in the bottom of other pots they help with drainage 😀

    The plastic pots that I am mostly referring to here are the ones that garden centres and nurseries sell their plants in. Ah… I just placed plastic pots in groups around my plants for my photos… no plants shown were in plastic pots 😀

    Just wondering… what kind of containers are plants sold in where you live?

    Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend 😀

  9. I haven't heard of anyone around here recycling plastic pots. I sure wish they did so. I could make a fine donation. I love the shot with all those hedgehogs. They are so cute.

  10. Hi Shirl,

    Hmmm, September 1st. I'll see what I can do to combine your challenge with Garden Bloggers' Muse Day 🙂

    I'll also be launching the next (quarterly)edition of Out on the Streets (OOTS) the day after if you'd like to join in with a picture of some public planting (good or bad) in your area. It would be fab if you could find a wildlife friendly example as it's not really been explored as a topic in OOTS so far and that fits in well with your blog 🙂

  11. Hi again Shirl. As it happened I was going to my local branch of Wyvale in Louth, Lincolnshire today.

    I asked and was told that they used to but they then had to dispose of them so they are not bothering any more. To me that is a typical Wyvale attitude, round here anyway. It was such a nice nursery when it was locally owned.

  12. I don't plan on coming back with too much from Dobbies… But I know how things don't always go to plan, but I am looking for Cyclamen, various seeds and hopefully cheap summer bulbs past their best.

    Naturally if I see something that I've been looking for previously then I may just have to pick it up!

    The original plan was to pick up some things for a pond for Pete's birthday in a couple of weeks. Only he's gone and dictated exactly what he wants, so that plan's down the pan!

    I may just have to take a photo of my lovely plastic and ceramic pot pile for you… Actually no I won't because it's an absolute mess! Hidden in an unused corner 😉

  13. Hi Shirl, I used to have a huge cobwebby stack of old plastic pots in the shed but realised I would never need most of them so when we replaced the shed I disposed of a lot in the plastics recycling bin. We don't have a Dobbies or a Wyevale here.

    I loved your photo of the Japanese Anemone but it has given me a distinct feeling of unease! I have a horrible feeling mine have disappeared without my noticing (I have rather neglected the garden lately 🙁 ) I now can't wait to go out and see in the morning.

    Have a lovely weekend 🙂

  14. Unfortunately we do not have a good solution yet for all the new plastic pots that every year come to our gardens here. I sometimes succeeded to give them back to very small nurseries if the pots all have the same size. The big gardencenters are not interested to take them back. Luckily there always are some friends who needs a little seedling, a cutting or a divided plant ;-)!! But still then, the problem is here.

  15. Hi Shirl: This was really useful and I shall now try and find somewhere to take those hundreds of used pots to – my greenhouse … and garage… are now full of them and I have been wondering what on earth to do with them, because they can't even go on the bonfire.
    Thanks for your thoughts!

  16. Hi Shirl, your stack of pots is so neat and tidy. Mine are scattered and strewn all over the garage floor. My husband is asking me to please do something about them! I recycled (in a bin that the garbage collectors take) quite a LOT of them earlier this summer. I still have more to go. I tried asking around about this same thing earlier in the summer and it seems the garden stores don't want them back! I'm getting ready to fill up my recycling bin again this week…I really don't need to hold onto most of them. Your idea sounds interesting…I'll check back and see how it goes.

  17. Hi there VP, oh dear didn’t realise there were other things going on that day (including the start of this year’s Blotanical Awards!). Nor did I realise it was a Bank Holiday. Just picked it as it was a little warning and enough time after the weekend. Oh well 🙂

    Now… you have set me a return challenge on OOTS! I could perhaps be bending the rules a little on this but this is something I’ve wanted an excuse to include in a posting 😉

  18. Hi again John, thank-you for a second comment and update on your local garden centre. That is a great pity to hear they’ve stopped taking plastic pots.

    From the emails I’ve sent out this is a tricky one for the garden centres too. Although I am very surprised to hear this about Wyvale after watching the video on the BBC from last year.

  19. Hi again Patsi, LOL… please do! It will show brilliantly the problems of how many we collect and the problems of storage they can cause. I’d love to see your mess 😉

  20. Hi again Shirl. I won't get an A+ for spelling. I should have put Wyevale – in case there is another company spelt without the e.

  21. Hi there Liz, looking at your post… was that a restrained visit… I can’t decide 😉

    Good luck with the cyclamen… I’ve not had success with that here. They make such a stunning carpet. BTW I saw the sedum rose carpet for sale at the weekend (my hanging basket) but at a smaller garden centre.

    Wow… that’s a bargain with the chair! I can picture you on your ‘throne’ with camera in hand quite easily 😀

    LOL… please do, pretty please… we all have these messes somewhere and I’d be 99.9% certain that everyone will have a plastic pots in them 😀

    In answer to your question… the metal pot definitely 😀

  22. Hi again John, I always find that a tricky one when answering comments. I did notice the missing 'e' and guessed it was probably a typo. Sometimes I return the spelling as in this case 😀

  23. I never have enough plastic pots – honestly, I actually had to buy some new ones this year! I would have loved to have been able to get second-hand ones instead. I need a lot of them because we've been about to move house for about four years now, so I haven't been planting much into the ground, and I have been taking cuttings and divisions of a lot of my plants, and they've all been outgrowing their pots and having to be put into bigger ones. I imagine once we've finally moved and got the new garden sorted I'll have a pot mountain! I think there's a Dobbies in Milton Keynes though, so perhaps I'll be able to find a home for it there.

  24. Shirl – I've been looking for an excuse to post about what's been happening down our way re plastic pots, so I'm glad that OOTS is performing the same function for you 🙂

    My post's up!

  25. PS – OOTS kick-off post is going out on Thursday, but I'll be running it for the whole of September, so there's plenty of time 🙂

    Not sure if I'll be using Mr Linky – there were some problems with it a while back and I see the ABC Wednesday crew are using Mr McLinky these days!

  26. Hi again Juliet and VP 😀

    Juliet – Ah… now I completely understand your challenge at the moment! I remember doing exactly the same when we moved here and always keep a few larger ones just as an insurance policy. Gosh… by the sound of things any new garden will get a head start! I loved taking fav plants from my last garden and some are still growing strong many years since. Yes, it is a pity you couldn’t benefit from pots others no longer need/want 🙁 Happy potting 😀

    VP – Brilliant, I’m glad I could assist 😉 Now, I really do mean that I am thrilled you have joined me with a posting on this. I was wary on publicising it too much as I didn’t want to put pressure on other bloggers at this time of year but on the other hand the pot mountains will need to be climbed/felled as Autumn approaches and that was my thinking. Phew… I am delighted to hear OOTS is going out on Thurs now… tomorrow might just be a day of rest 😉 I’ve perhaps been a little too ambitious with recent postings and have struggled to keep up… goodness knows how you do this on a daily basis… gold stars to you 😀 Sorry to hear you’ve had probs with the link lists perhaps I should have emailed you before I posted to see what was up.

  27. Hi again Jan, Barbara, Charlotte and Jan 🙂

    Jan – Yes, I can completely understand you clearout… I did the same when we took down our old shed. From memory Dobbies got my stack of spare pots. Ah… the Japanese Anemone can decide to leave without warning… however if you moved it well, it may just not forgive you. Hope you found it alive and well. Thanks, we did have a good weekend… wishing you a good week 😀

    Barbara – Ah… I did wonder if Switzerland was ahead of us here in the UK. Yes, by the chatting I have done recently it seems the smaller nurseries may just be happy to take back pots from the plants they have sold. One person told me they actually got a small amount of cash for them. I thought that was a great incentive.

    Charlotte – Excellent… I’m delighted to help you de-clutter too 😀

    Jan – Yes, you know I was surprised myself to see such a tidy stack! The rest of my potted shed isn’t quite like that… LOL Perhaps my pots got there themselves 😉 I’ve added some US links to my posting on the 1st and noticed some of your Botanical Gardens take them. Just a thought, don’t know if you have one in your area 😀

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