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Plastic in the garden: good or bad?

We've got a problem: there's way too much plastic waste in the world. That's got to change.

Newspapers, magazines, TV, social media, you see the headlines everywhere: plastic is everywhere and it's ruining the planet.

That doesn't make you happy, does it? Because you care about the world and nature. You don't have a Planty Garden for nothing, right?

But I'm not here to get into the doom and gloom. I prefer to look at what we can do about it.
Oogsten uit eigen Makkelijke Moestuin
There's nothing like harvesting your own food

With a Planty Garden, you're already making a difference

A lot of plastic waste comes from packaging, including supermarket vegetables:

  • 4 sprigs of parsley? They come in a plastic container packed in a plastic bag.
  • Organic cucumber or bell pepper? Sold in plastic cling wrap.
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes? You'll find them in a plastic cup.

Everything that you harvest yourself from your vegetable garden saves a lot of plastic. Together, we can avoid mountains of plastic waste.

Existing plastic is also a raw material

Avoiding plastic is good, but it's just as important that we get rid of the plastic we already have. The best way to deal with existing plastic is to see it as a raw material.

Plastic is extremely durable: it doesn't decay. That's why single-use plastic is so harmful to the environment. It serves a purpose for just a few minutes, then gets thrown away.

But if you collect that plastic and turn it into a durable product, that makes a real difference. You keep that junk away from our oceans and transform it into something beautiful, long-lasting, and useful.

Save Plastics

In 2018 we met the guys from Save Plastics.

Instead of using tropical wood to make poles, scaffolding, and lamp posts, they use repurposed plastic. So, they don't just clean up mountains of plastic waste, but also save rainforests.

One of those guys, Remi, used that material to turn a boring allotment into an insane Planty Garden.

Check out how cool:
Van kale volkstuin naar Makkelijke Moestuin
Remi's Planty Garden: from empty yard to vegetable garden paradise

That got us thinking

What about a vegetable garden box made from recycled plastic? Then we could kill 2 birds with 1 stone:
  1. By producing a garden box this way, we clean up a lot of existing plastic waste. That means less plastic soup in our oceans.
  2. By growing vegetables in a garden box, we're buying less produce that's been packaged in plastic.
Wow.

So, we went all out:

Planty Gardening and recycled plastic

100% recycled - 100% recyclable

We had a number of garden boxes and grow bags made: small ones and some larger ones.

For the first 2, we used material that is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.
Plastic flesjes omzetten in stevige vilten stof
Transforming plastic bottles into felt
Plus, the felt material we made is super breathable. That encourages the plants to produce new roots, so they grow really well.

Meet our MM-Mini grow bags:

The 30x30 MM-Mini

Makkelijke Moestuin mini-pot: ideaal voor kleine ruimtes
The MM-Mini
This handy grow bag is a great alternative to your average pot. The breathable material makes your plants grow stronger and faster. They fit in small places, keep plants that like to spread contained, and are easy to move: so you can bring your summer plants inside if there's a threat of frost.

60x60 MM-Airbak

Moestuinbak van recycled plastic
We made these MM-Airbak grow bags for everyone who wants to set up a Planty Garden box quick, easy, and on the cheap.

Just click them together, fill them with MM-Mix, and you're ready to sow. You don't have to replace the soil mix ever, so you can enjoy it for years.

Only available in black:

The MM-Hero

De mooiste Makkelijke Moestuinbak van recycled plastic: onverwoestbaar.
Our MM-Hero garden box looks gorgeous and stays that way
Remi (the guy with the beautiful garden) designed the best-looking, sturdiest, and handiest garden box ever.

It isn't cheap, but it's a boss garden box:

  • This garden box is indestructible, it won't get crooked or warp over time, and is infinitely recyclable.
  • It's made from a living room full of plastic waste - from plastics that are usually tough to recycle.
  • Everyone who sees this garden box thinks it is gorgeous. The material looks clean and solid, like a cross between wood and concrete and the legs are made of galvanized steel.

What about micro-plastic? Don't the boxes shed tiny particles into the soil mix?

No, fortunately not. But I understand why you ask, I wasn't sure about that either.

That's why I took a deep dive and found out all I could about it. Our garden boxes are the best solution out there.

What about other plastics in the garden?

That depends on what it is and how you use it. For example, our weed mat is not a problem because there's no wear and tear involved: you're not scraping or poking it. But when you purchase a standard anti-weed cloth that most garden centers sell, small strands come loose. If those end up in nature, they become part of the problem.

It's true: sometimes you can't avoid plastic. I mean, I have no idea what an alternative would be to a plastic garden hose.
Tuinslang in de Makkelijke Moestuin
A plastic-free garden hose?
But most gardening tools don't need to be made with plastic. Either you don't really need those tools at all, or you can find the same gear made from other materials:

Just look at our MM-Schepje and MM-Harkje. There's no plastic involved whatsoever:
Schepje en harkje van de Makkelijke Moestuin
Our spade and garden claw are made from wood and stainless steel
Sometimes, you can garden just fine with things you already have lying around.

  • Watering your plants? Why not use an old yogurt or deli container. They work just as well as a watering can- even better actually.
  • Raking or digging a hole? A fork and spoon from your kitchen drawer would work just fine for smaller tasks.
  • A nozzle for a spray bottle? Just poke a hole or 2 in a plastic top and tadaa!
Water geven in de Makkelijke Moestuin met een plastic bakje
Watering plants with an old deli container

Nice Jelle, but meanwhile you're still shipping in plastic bags

Isn't that plastic you throw away immediately?

Yes, our MM-Mix comes in plastic bags. Unfortunately, there's no other way to do this with a bag of soil. However, 80% of the material is made from recycled plastic. As soon as it's technically possible, we'll make it 100%.

Plastic is also used to ship our stuff, but as little as possible. But all of that plastic is very easy to recycle into new material. That's a different story than potato chip bags, the plastic coating in cardboard coffee cups, and other composite products.

We're also looking into the possibility of making garden boxes from used bags. We think this kind of solution is not only important but also fun 😄

At the same time, we're also working hard to replace all our plastic packaging with something else. Because you don't have to clean up what isn't there in the first place.

So: how do we tackle the plastic problem?

Here's my suggestion:

Level 1: Start a vegetable garden and grow your own food. This way, you buy less pre-packaged produce and use less unnecessary plastic.

Level 2: Use garden boxes made from recycled plastic and transform existing plastic into a vegetable garden. For example, with our MM-Heroes, MM-Minis, or MM-Airbaks.

Level 3: Encourage your friends and family to participate as well.

If we manage to do 3, then we're not only doing something fun - growing plants - but we are also giving a positive twist to a problem that concerns us all.

So, what do you say - join us?
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PS: We keep track of the number of kilos of plastic that we've collectively saved from the incinerators. At the end of 2021, we hit 85000 kg. Not bad, huh? 🙂

To give you an idea: 20 kg of plastic equals 1 cubic meter of compressed plastic waste. Uncompressed, that's the equivalent of a living room full of plastic waste.

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