Spring gardening offers lots of ways to reduce and recycle!

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District shares lots of ways to reduce, reuse and recycle during spring gardening!

Spring is in the air in Port Alberni and people are getting ready to plant seeds, buy veggie or flower starts and do a general spring clean-up in their yard.

Gardening is a great way to interact more sustainably in the world, increase your health and promote local food security. The flipside of this is there can be an incredible amount of plastic involved.

Let’s take a look at garden items that can be recycled or better yet, reused.

  • Plastic pots and trays. Ensure that you sterilize pots prior to reuse by dipping into a bleach/water solution. Once your bleach bottle is empty, thoroughly rinse and put it in your curbside bin or take it to the recycling depot. When plastic pots or trays get to the end of their life span, rinse and take them to any of the recycling depots or put in curbside recycling. Plastic plant tags are also accepted.
  • Yogurt containers. Cut containers into strips for plant identification tags; old venetian blinds destined for the garbage can also be used. Make sure you use an appropriate No-Erase Garden Marker, so you know what varietals you’ve planted three months down the road. When your marker no longer works, recycle it at Staples.
  • Soil blocks. Want to get completely away from plastic when starting seedlings? Soil blocks are a great option – they require a bit more work up front but NO plastic! As an added bonus, air pruning means seedlings don’t get root-bound and extra amendments are added when mixing soil to promote plant health.

Need more ideas?

  • Old gutters: Great for starting peas early.
  • Toilet paper rolls: Use as mini pots to start seeds – cut one end into a 10-centimetre-long section and fold to create a pot.
  • Egg cartons: Use as mini pots and then directly transplant into the ground. With cardboard, be conscious of mould so keep seedlings in sun and well-ventilated.
  • Large plastic salad containers: Repurpose for mini greenhouse.
  • Plastic milk jugs: Cut up to make soil scoops or small cloches.
  • Old tire tubes: Used to tie up tomato plants.
  • Old nylons/pantyhose: Use to support melons if you’re growing vertically.

Recycling steps

Before you send gardening or cleaning supplies packaging to the landfill, always check if they can be recycled. Recycle BC accepts the following items:

✓ Plastic plant pots and seedling trays – recycle curbside or at the depot. Ensure they’re empty, giving a good shake or quick rinse to ensure they’re soil-free.

✓ Soil and mulch bags – recycle at the depot only. Recycle empty bags that contained soil or mulch with your other plastic bags and overwrap. Ensure they’re empty and return them to the depot.

✓ Pesticide and fertilizer containers – check the label*

✓ Empty aerosol cans and caps – check the label*

✓ Empty plastic bottles, jugs and spray bottles – check the label*

*Most empty and rinsed household pesticide containers, aerosol cans and plastic bottles/jugs/spray bottles are accepted, but please exclude hazardous materials. This includes pesticide or cleaning containers with any contents remaining or packaging that includes the words “danger” or “warning,” together with the word “poison,” or that has precautionary octagon or diamond symbols with skull and cross bones.

For more information on all the Extended Producer Responsibility services in the Alberni Valley or the updated handout on curbside vs. depot recycling facilities, visit acrd.bc.ca/recycling.

And if you’d like the waste reduction educator to speak to your organization, community group or classroom, email to recycling@acrd.bc.ca – there’s even a recycling/repurposing presentation specific to gardening and farm management!


Soil blocks are a good alternative to plastic containers for seed starting.

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