Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Planning my Zen Space; Sans Plastic

(this post is for Fight Back Fridays Hosted by Food Renegade! WOO!)

Where are you Spring? After just celebrating Ostara (or the Vernal Equinox) I was very excited to begin organizing our balcony into an urban garden. Then it snowed. A lot. In any case, in my excitement (pre-snow) we went to Zellers to purchase some planters for our beautiful urban garden.

I'm not too sure on the stability of our balcony, so we stayed away from ceramic or terracotta pots and focused on cheaper, plastic pots. As I carried these plastic monstrosities to the cash I was overwhelmed by the smell of... chemicals. It was so strong that I actually wanted to cough a little. I started to think about all my beautiful carrots that I would grow in the soil, being held by this #5 plastic container, which smelled like chemical soup and would probably be leaching into the soil. And into my carrots. I dropped the container right at the cash (no surprise to the fiancé, I'm a compulsive picker-up and putter-down when it comes to shopping). Really, a plastic container defeats our purpose of having an urban garden. Sigh.

Fortunately, while perusing we found some bamboo pulp biodegradable 11" planters! They are light and sturdy and should last up to 5 years and when I'm done with them they can be composted! I have a small rice planter growing mint and it has held up very well over the past six months. So that was our solution and now we have pretty, light, relatively inexpensive planters that don't smell like death! YAY!

Bamboo pulp you say? Yes, they are made from bamboo pulp with supposedly no petroleum products and a non-toxic coating. Unfortunately I have tried to research this particular brand and have found nothing... sketchy. From what I know about how bamboo is processed into clothing fibers, I can assume that a lot of heat and energy goes into processing the pulp. Also, it was made in China and as I can't seem to find a website there really is no way to guarantee that it was produced in a safe, healthy environment for the workers, or where and how the bamboo was harvested.

There are other types of planters made with rice or coconut husks (coil) available, which would by-pass the entire bamboo issue, especially the cutting-down-rainforests-to-grow-bamboo issue. Enviroarc (bamboo) actually has a website that you can order products and see their "environmental" policy. Really it reads a bit like a facade, with no real third party certifications or accreditation processes. It also doesn't actually explain how their biodegradable planters are made.

I am happy to see a "greener" alternative to container gardening though, and will have to be pleased with my non-plastic, light-weight alternative. I will definitely continue searching to see if this is a viable environmentally alternative or simply more greenwashing...

In the meantime I will be planting some pretty stumpy carrots (hopefully some multicoloured ones!) and.... something else equally tasty! YES. Now I just have to find heirloom, non GMO seeds. Seeds of Change here I come!


  1. I think Danvers Half Long carrots are good for containers, although they are just regular orange. Nice work on the bamboo pots!

  2. Oh whoops, I don't think the Danvers carrots are an heirloom variety....happy seed searching at Seeds of Change :)

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog! If you do end up growing the multi-colored carrots, I have a great recipe for carrot french fries with tofu dressing...I love carrots. Your post made me wish I could have a garden! Namaste...

  4. Thanks for joining in the fun at Fight Back Fridays today! I admire everyone who tries to grow vegetables in containers. I've NEVER been successful at it.

    (AKA FoodRenegade)

  5. are those containers really compostable? or are they compostable like all those biodegradable plastics bags are compostable (ie. not at all)?

  6. @ Jen: well, I'm not too sure. The bamboo/rice containers are not made the same as corn-based plastics so the biodegrading process will be different. The problem with the corn-bioplastic is more that for HRM to compost them in their facilities they would need a different system- but they do compost, they just take a really long time in the sun (i.e. 6 months) or special composting system. So you'd need your own compost in your yard instead of HRM's organics pick-up.
    I'm actually a little sketchy about what my planters will biodegrade into- I'm not sure what kind of sealants were used to keep the bamboo pulp intact. Sigh. Options are just scarce. I'll need more planters though, so I'll keep looking!


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