The best zero-waste products you need to grow a sustainable garden – The Telegraph

the-best-zero-waste-products-you-need-to-grow-a-sustainable-garden-–-the-telegraph

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Zero-waste shops can be found all over the country – I have two within a five-minute walk from my house. In fact, here in Bristol, we are also lucky to have an old converted milk float, renamed the Oat Float, the city’s first mobile zero-waste shop. It’s amazingly convenient – you can visit it at a designated fortnightly location, or club together with friends and neighbours to book it to come to your street. In our neighbourhood, there’s no excuse when it comes to buying a Tupperware container’s worth of rice or refilling a bottle of washing-up liquid, instead of single-use plastic alternatives.
I’d like to be able to buy compost, plant food and other sundries the same way, but it’s harder than you might think to find suppliers. It’s surprising, because in some ways the industry has long since adopted waste-free products, with reusable ton-bags of materials such as soil and gravel, which can be delivered, paper seed packets and cardboard packaging for some items. However, even these aren’t always strictly zero-waste: some are single-use items that create unwanted material, which if not binned, needs to be recycled. Given that gardeners are likely to be a receptive audience, it’s frustrating that a vast range of gardening products are sold in plastic packaging, and most zero-waste shops stock very little in the way of garden-related paraphernalia.
While the concept is clearly still in its infancy in this sector, the future looks bright. In 2021, an industry trade event held at the Islington Business Design Centre saw the launch of several award-winning products, from paper pots to refillable fertilisers.
The Irish garden product manufacturer Hygeia is behind the development of a drinks vending machine-style unit for two of its products: Goulding Concentrated Tomato Feed and Nature Safe 100 per cent organic Liquid Seaweed Plant Food. “It’s still in a conceptual phase,” says Tom Stolworthy, Hygeia’s UK manager, “and despite Covid-19 hindering our roll-out, we’ve had a great response to it within the trade. We’re excited that the British Garden Centre Group trialled it in one of their stores, along with a handful of independent stockists, and hope to see it become widely available.”
We can do our bit by asking for bag-for-life compost and refillable fertiliser in our local garden centres and zero-waste shops and, of course, choose eco-friendly alternatives where possible. Here’s a round-up of useful products currently on the market.
The best zero-waste gardening products to buy right now
Paper takeaway pots

David Ware and Chris Williams, the owners of Edibleculture in Faversham, Kent, designed the POSIpot to revolutionise how we buy plants. At the checkout, by transferring plants from plastic pots into takeaway-style cardboard containers, it means customers don’t have to dispose of the plastic ones and they can be reused on the nursery. This duo also started the first compost “bag for life” scheme, with stockists throughout the UK, and sell the Melcourt range of compost, mulch and soil conditioners in a reusable bag that holds up to 40 litres. Visit edibleculture.co.uk.
Liquid fertiliser
As well as the sustainably sourced, plant-based ingredients used in Will & Al’s range of nutrient-rich liquid feeds, they are sold in bottles designed to be either recyclable and/or refillable. Boost soil conditioner is also available. This Cumbrian-based family business sells to zero-waste shops in Penrith and Carlisle, and online at Amazon, but is planning to increase its UK-wide stockists. Bloom and Beanstalk plant food, from £17.90 for 1 litre (willandals.co.uk).
Organic seaweed fertiliser

Established manufacturers of organic seaweed feed for nearly 15 years, SeaChem committed to a “greener approach” by offering its Shropshire Seaweed Organic Fertiliser in refillable bottles. 
Made from dried and cold-pressed seaweed harvested from the Atlantic, the liquid feed improves fruit and veg yields, promotes stronger, healthier flowers and plants, and healthy lawns. Shropshire Seaweed is available from local stockists, and refills can be bought through its website. £13.49 for 1 litre (sea-chem.co.uk).
Natural rubber gloves
If You Care natural gloves are made with Fairtrade rubber from a responsibly managed plantation and are lined with 100 per cent natural cotton from renewable sources. 

What’s more, they are reusable and, as the rubber is 100 per cent latex that contains no fillers, they are strong enough to cope with garden tasks. Once they’ve worn out, they are compostable too, and come in cardboard packaging. Gloves £4 (peacewiththewild.co.uk).
Eco bin bag
A sustainable alternative to single-use plastic bin liners, these plastic-free and reusable bin liners are hand-made by a mother-and-daughter team in Dorset. Using the eco-fabric PUL (polyurethane laminate fabric), it has a waterproof lining and features a handle on the bottom to make it easier to empty the liner. Cleverly designed with a seamless bottom to prevent leakages, it’s washable too and comes in three sizes: small, tall and large. Reusable bin liner £19.99-£29.99 (moonie.co.uk).
Compostable garden waste bags
Made using waste wood pulp, these bags are plastic-free, and for every tree that’s harvested in Europe to make the wood pulp, four trees are planted. 

These extra-strong, generously sized 75-litre garden waste bags have been designed with a square base for stability, and are just the thing if you are clearing leaves, foliage and garden trimmings. Biodegradable and home-compostable garden waste bags, £6.50 for a pack of five (ecoliving.co.uk).
Seedboms

These 100 per cent compostable grenades deliver an explosion of wildflower and herb seeds, which spill out upon impact with the ground and grow where they land. The Scottish-based company promises “inspiring design with nature in mind”, which means its non-GMO seeds and organic peat-free compost are enclosed in a starch and natural fibre-based shell – perfect for both zero-waste shoppers and your garden. Seedboms £4.50 (kabloom.co.uk).
Natural detergent
If you want to spruce up your patio, decking, greenhouse and water butts, Bio-D Home & Garden Sanitiser is a natural, environmentally-friendly cleaner that will leave them sparkling and germ-free. A combination of eucalyptus and coconut oil, it is ideal for disinfecting drains, too. From an environmental perspective, the manufacturers use 100 per cent recycled plastic packaging, which can be included in your kerbside collections, and now they’re offering refill stations to independent stockists. Bio-D Home & Garden Sanitiser, from £2.75 for 750ml (biod.co.uk).
Coir blocks
A great alternative to buying soil if you can’t find a bag-for-life supplier, one block of peat-free coconut coir will get seeds and cuttings off to a great start. It’s simple to use: place in a large container, fill with warm water and leave it to absorb and expand, then fluff it up to loosen. It’s kind to the environment too, as it lasts three times longer than peat so can be reused once seedlings or cuttings have been planted out, and comes in an easy-to-carry 100 per cent biodegradable package. Coco Grow, £29.98 for 75 litres (crocus.co.uk).
Bird seed

Look after garden birds – and the environment – with this great range of seed mixes, which are sold in a recyclable and plastic-free paper sack for quantities of 12.55kg or more. Attracting a wide variety of birds to your garden, the husk-free mix has the bonus of  preventing waste and mess being left by wild birds around your feeder. No-mess mixes, from £15.99 for 12.55kg, free delivery (gardenwildlifedirect.co.uk).
What are the principles of zero-waste?
Refuse
Don’t own anything you don’t need (that’s not what the shed is for).
Reduce
Cut down on what you do use – especially all the unrecyclable stuff. This equals less waste overall.
Reuse
Mend, hand down, repair, buy and sell second-hand. Try to buy reusable or refillable products.
Recycle
A good option, but not a magic bullet. Many items cannot last indefinitely and will end up in landfill anyway.
Rot
Or as gardeners call it – compost.

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