The gardening industry is often believed to be a green sector but can be a large contributor of carbon emissions. For a start, a high volume of plastic is used for plant pots, compost bags and seed trays – 500 million per year to be exact! Unfortunately, this all usually ends up in landfill or incinerators as these materials cannot be recycled.
There is also the issue of peat being used as compost, which strips wildlife from its natural environment and releases high amounts of carbon dioxide once harvested.
This means the shift to sustainable gardening is now more important than ever and is a great opportunity for eco-friendly entrepreneurs. Here are our top tips for starting your own sustainable gardening business.
Avoid using peat-based compost
Peat bogs are naturally occurring and help to store large amounts of carbon dioxide. When these are harvested to make compost, natural resources are depleted and harmful gases are released into our atmosphere.
Instead of using peat-based compost in your practices, opt for a non-peat-based compost with a certified no-peat label. One of the more popular options is coir-based compost, which is a by-product of coconut fibre once it has been processed. Whilst this must be shipped around the world to be used, the carbon emissions released from transportation are minimal compared to that of peat.
You may also consider using organic matter for your business or producing your own compost. This could include horse or farmyard manure and can be bought in loads to reduce plastic waste.
Shift away from fuel-powered tools
The use of battery-powered tools in gardening is another innovative way of propelling sustainability in the gardening industry, with a wide variety of tools now becoming available. As the name implies, battery-powered tools run off electric batteries, most of which are charged prior to use. These do not produce fossil fuels when employed due to the absence of a generator or carburettor.
Technological advancements have also ensured these tools are not inferior in terms of horsepower compared to their fuel-powered counterparts. Getting yourself some high-quality tools, like a cordless chainsaw and garden cultivator, means you can get the job done just as efficiently but with fewer harmful substances being released into the atmosphere.
Source your goods from sustainable suppliers
Sustainable sourcing refers to the practice of businesses purchasing their supplies from local and organic merchants to help support the maintenance of ecosystems. By doing so, your gardening business can significantly reduce its carbon footprint. This is due to a reduction in the number of vehicles exporting and importing goods and the use of synthetic pesticides.
In the long term, this will also likely increase your profit margin and attract loyal customers who wish to reduce their negative impact on the environment.
Collect water from natural resources
When at peak demand, the gardening industry can use up to 70% of the water supply in the UK. This has led to the creation of ways to reduce and reuse water, which are mostly cost-effective and relatively easy to administer.
You can store water during the wetter months in a large rainwater butt – eco-friendly plastic or terracotta rainwater butts can easily store 160 litres of water each. By storing large amounts of water for the drier months, you not only save money on water bills but conserve water and reduce your carbon footprint.
You can also reuse grey water that has been collected from other sections of your business, which would normally be lost as waste. Using a grey water diverter will divert the water from buildings to a storage facility to be used whenever needed, so long as it does not contain any cleaning disinfectant products.