Our dirty little secret — what to do with pots.

I recently read an article in a local magazine about a problem that I have myself.  What to do with all the pots?   I have re-used some, I have returned some to the nursery (though not all will take them) and I shamefully admit that after a summer of a growing stacks and stacks, I couldn’t stand to look at them any more and put them in the trash. I have had the same trouble with recycling that is mentioned in the article…dirt covered pots are not accepted at recycling stations.

There must be a better way.  Have you come up with a good system?  Does your local waste management have a solution.  I am curious to hear good ideas…so that together we can spread them around to our local suppliers and waste collectors.

Garden pots Waste

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Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.

4 Comments

  1. Jim/ArtofGardening on December 10, 2008 at 7:27 am

    We don’t have a system for getting rid of pots. One local cooperative nursery has looked into it and found no one locally will take them. The local Botanical garden called ME asking if I knew of a way! Seems like a huge waste. I think it should be the responsibility of the plant growers, by working with suppliers, legislators and the recycling industry, to hep us figure out how best to recycle pots.

  2. Michelle Derviss on December 10, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I take them back to one of my wholesale nurseries.
    They give me ‘credit’ . I think it is 5 or 10 cents for a 1 gallon, 15 cents for a 5 gallon and 20 cents for a 15 gallon.
    I was at the wholesale nursery yesterday to pick up a few sample plants for a client.
    I had over $ 70. dollars worth of credit on my account.

    I hold onto the 4 inch pots. I’ll use them to pot up succulent and brugmansia cutting this winter and will hold a ‘driveway garden sale’ this spring to make a few bucks.
    Anything that doesn’t sell I pass on to the local school garden , bring down to the city for their annual benefit sales or offer them to my Buddhist sangha community.

  3. Genevieve on December 11, 2008 at 1:01 am

    I guess I can thank our thriving local marijuana-growing industry – I’ve never had an issue getting rid of pots. Our local recycling center takes them and people re-use them. My local wholesale nurseries also appreciate them – try asking the plant vendors at your local farmer’s markets if they need them. Some of them have recently started having the little recycling emblem on the bottom, so if you can’t find someone to re-use them, you can pop those into the recycle bin.

    Now, what I want to know is what’s up with those crappy “biodegradeable” plastic-lookin’ pots (not the ones made of cardboard/ peaty stuff)? They say to plant the the plant right in the ground pot and all, but the company’s site says they take 2-3 years to break down. My herbs would be pretty danged rootbound by then.

  4. Amanda Thomsen on December 11, 2008 at 9:56 am

    I do recycle mine. I put them out with my bins and they go. I don’t know what happens after they go… but they go….
    But also I take them to nurseries for re-using, list them as freebies on Craigslist and send them to work with my husband (we works in a municipal garden with a tiny budget, they appreciate that kind of stuff).
    I also made a dog poop composter out of one.

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