When we ordered supplies for our new greenhouse 13 years ago at Quincy High School, we ordered cases of plastic pots. I didn’t know when there would be more money to restock.
Things have changed for me. There are real issues regarding the whole contamination of the waste stream, real economic and environmental questions about recycling and a strong signal from nature with the pandemic. This has allowed my thinking to continue to evolve. Nature might be telling us something big. In schools, when students are using the milk cartons as planters, it might just get them to think about the environmental issues.
In the photo from left to right there are containers for yogurt, chocolate covered almonds, another smaller yogurt cup, a school sized milk carton, a 2 liter tonic bottle and a half gallon Almond Breeze container. For the containers with lids, I poke or drill holes in the covers, cut off the bottoms and plant the seedling in the upside down planter. This keeps the roots from being damaged when I remove the bottom cover and lift the container from the plant as it goes into the ground. The Almond Breeze container gets cut in half. Both ends are removed. As the roots fill the space, planting is easy. Just put the roots deep into the garden mix and lift up the planter. If you leave the container as a collar it will protect from early season cutworms. The roots will not be disturbed. As a matter of fact that is true for all of the containers except for the small yogurt cups.
All of these containers can be reused. The paper containers usually last for three cycles. When children are involved, they may want to decorate the planter or practice spelling the names of the plants that are being grown in the container.
At Hingham High School the Green Team was working on a reuse project before the pandemic. They wanted to build awareness at the school for the benefits of using reusable products.
Teach the children. It appears that it may be too late for many adults.