Now that we are half way through the year and half way through the RHS Garden and Flower shows I would like to talk about the show that I went to recently.
I was able to make it to the Friday RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival. Last year I went to the same show and I was happy to see the same quality this year.
Instead of posting a bunch of flower and plant photos that you could see anywhere I would like to talk about the amount of plastic that the show had on display.
Upon entrance to the show they has a giant fish made out of plastic rubbish showing that the large number of plastic that ends up in the ocean.
Although, the rubbish bins stated that they sorted majority of the rubbish in recycling and the rest in to a energy source, the fact that they have the plastic available in the first place was disappointing.
Last year, I did not have enough time to see the whole show, however this year I think I got a better view of most of the vendors.
Beside the obvious amount of plants being sold in plastic pots there were rows and rows of food vendors offering samples to those people walking by. Along the drinks row were samples of every item on sale; I love a good sample as much as the next person but that accounts for hundreds upon hundreds of single use tiny cups made of plastic that are going to waste – even if recycled, they will mostly be downcycled into lower grade items such as pillow filling or traffic cones that are dead end products and not recycled.
If they are recycled in to other plastics; then ‘virgin’ new plastic must be added to maintain the plastics’ integrity. Whether downcycling or recycling, both use copious amounts of fossil fuels and energy (sometimes more than new plastics) so the only way to have an impact on the environment is to not make the plastic; reducing the availability in the first place.
There were vendors selling bottles of water and although there were many free water taps where people could fill up their water bottles – there were limited reusable bottles available to be purchased so if you had forgotten your bottle from home it was hard to buy a new reusable one.
The sponsor of the show was Viking and I saw many people walking around with plastic bags with their logo on it. The majority of people walking around with plants purchased were in plastic boxes on wheels (depending on how much restraint they had shown) however, there were many people with plastic bags carrying their purchases. Although, there were many food and drink vendors that despite having plastic samples cups were giving their sales away in paper bags.
I was glad to find out that the two dahlias I bought from the National Dahlia Collection (two for £10 -last of the big spenders) was given to me in a cloth bag; eventually, I can compost the bag if it falls apart one day.
(On a side note, I bought ‘Bluesette’ and ‘Gallery Art Nouveau’ dahlias both with showy flowers in shades of pink; they grow on the shorter side so I planted them with my short peonies.)
The last thing of worry was the support given to fake grass companies; especially with the drive to create urban meadows to support pollinators and birds. I was surprised to see the fake grass because it doesn’t seem to follow the message that the RHS are trying to promote.
The RHS magazine now comes in a paper package which is home compostable or council recyclable – a step up from even the bio/starch plastic that may not compost at home unless hot composted.
The magazine itself has a monthly article about the struggles and solutions of creating a plastic free home garden; giving tips and suggestions on where to make changes in order to reduce or reuse plastic in the garden or allotment.
This being said I hope that I am wrong and that all the tiny cups that I saw at the show were actually made of cellulose or starch that was taken away to be hot composted (If placed in landfill, it often has trouble breaking down due to the pressure of the garbage and the anaerobic environment).
I hope that this blog post becomes passe and I go to next year’s show seeing that it is completely plastic free with an aim to being zero waste. It is an extreme request but something to aim for.
(I did take a few pictures for inspiration for the home garden included below just to break up the doom and gloom of this post – the Zantedeshia look almost fake though)