We are trying to find the most environmentally friendly way to sell plants, so avoiding single use plastics and going for re -use options wherever possible.

So far we have set up a plant pot exchange at Belper Community Hall (Hooray!), which anyone can deposit or collect plant pots from. We hope to use as many pre loved pots as possible. When we have to buy in pots we are buying recycled plastic which is recyclable (grey pots can go in your recycling if they are broken). We would love you to bring the pots back to us when you have finished with them please!


We want to provide you with a label so you can remember what your bought once you get it home. Plastic stick on labels disintegrate into the environment and are not recyclable.

Waterproof Horticultural labels
Plastic labels commonly seen on plant pots
Barcode Labels
Thermal printed labels that have siliconized backing paper, not currently recyclable.

Printed paper labels won’t last long and they are supplied on a siliconized backing paper that isn’t recyclable at kerbside collection. There is some debate as to whether it is safe to put this siliconized paper in the compost. I haven’t found any information yet that says this is a good idea.

Perhaps we should label with stick-in labels? There are wooden ones and plastic ones. They are usually big enough for a plant name but no more detail.

Pros and cons of high quality plastic: they can be reused by customers if written on with pencil, sometimes they break, it takes a long time to hand write lots of labels, good quality pencil doesn’t fade but pen might.

Pros and cons of wooden stick-in labels: They can be re used until they rot, they are not made of petrochemicals and are biodegradable, they are not so easy to write on, they are theoretically carbon neutral if enough trees are planted to replace them (FSC).

For face to face sales, we’ve had an idea that the customer could write the name of the plant on the pot with a white chalk marker pen as an aide memoire, or we could have optional stick-in labels that the customer could, if they wanted one, write on when they buy the plant.

There are other types of labels, such as Tyvek, which is used as standard by the horticulture industry. It can be recycled but as far as I know only if you post it to a recycling plant in the U.S.A. Tyvek is a durable woven plastic. The loop lock labels you get on fruit trees are made of it.

Currently, it’s hard to find good plastic free options that don’t impact on the environment. The horticulture industry could make big changes if they worked together to make eco friendly systems available. We are going to use stick in labels for now, after testing some different types to see which are going to work best.

If you have any great ideas about the most environmentally friendly way to label plants for sale, let us know!

You can make comments at the bottom of the page, we’d love to hear from you.   🙂

4 thoughts on “The problem with packaging…

  1. Great article, and an important discussion point!
    I have seen labels attached to jars with elastic bands, perhaps there may be an option for you to use a looped elastic band with a label? The band can then be re-used.
    Also, could the name of the plant be attached (in which ever way) and then a description be provided on a piece of paper for people to refer to, thus reducing the amount of writing required?


  2. For people with smart phones – maybe just photograph the plant with its label when you buy it then leave the label behind for the next person to photograph when they purchase that plant?


    1. That’s a great idea Jo. We’ll try suggesting that to customers and see how it works. Thanks for the idea.


  3. Love this🥰. Thank you for sharing and sending time unpicking a complicated area to find the best solution for EarthedUp.
    Skopa, The Zero Waste Place, Wirksworth.


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