Plastic clearup

WaysideWayside Posts: 523

Polystyrene used in pots that later falls to pieces and ends up in the garden, and old plastic bags that end up in a million small pieces.

How do you get this out the soil?  Would it float to the top of a bucket?

Is it bad for the environment?  Will these eventually rot down?  Should I move to the compost heap?

Should I leave for Wall-E and not worry about it?

Any tips?

Last edited: 05 December 2017 17:12:21



  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 1,991

    If it's already in your soil, all you can do is slowly remove it as you dig/weed/clear, bag it up and put it with your rubbish. Yes it's bad for the environment - it clogs up the innards of all the little creatures in your soil and will kill many of them. No it won't rot down. Ever. It just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces so more and more creatures end up ingesting it. 

    White polystyrene is recyclable so get rid of it while it's still unbroken. Empty compost bags make sturdy bin bags if you turn them black side out.

    Last edited: 05 December 2017 17:42:39

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time
    Sir Terry Pratchett
  • philippa smith2philippa smith2 Posts: 6,234

    Raisingirl has said it all.

    If you are trying to clear a garden new to you, then you have to go through it day after day and pick out the crap. After 5 years in this garden, I'm still finding bits of plastic, etc. You may think you have cleared it all but then you always find more.  Often after a heavy rainfall, things come to light or after a really windy day crap will appear from neighbouring gardens.

    Unbroken polystyrene can be used as part of orchid compost or to bulk out large planted containers but otherwise, no value whatsoever and should be carefully binned whenever you come across it,

  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 1,628

    I can never understand why polystyrene is still manufactured for packaging etc. ; it will absolutely never break down completely ! To burn it releases dangerous toxins .

    Experts reckon now that the worlds oceans are contaminated with microscopic plastic particles , and every fish we consume contains them .

    What with the endless destruction of plant habitats , forests and animals due to an ever burgeoning global population , havn't we all made an almighty mess of our planet ?

    I've never had the misfortune to find anything untoward in my garden ; the house was built during the inter-war period , (circa 1930s) , on what was then relatively virgin and unploughed former orchards .

    I have seen first hand some of the debris buried by unscrupulous builders on so-called 'new-builds' , and sympathise with the owners of such properties . Diesel , tarmac , concrete , barbed-wire and plastic bags and pipes to name but a few image .

    Last edited: 05 December 2017 18:13:34

  • philippa smith2philippa smith2 Posts: 6,234

    "Haven't we made an almighty mess of our planet "...........says it all really.


  • WaysideWayside Posts: 523

    I've got an old track at the rear of the garden, that used to be used as a dumping ground.  Loads of fly-tipping.

    I pick out what I can when I see it.

    I stumbled upon something like an old bag or tarp, that had totally disintegrated.  Little bits and pieces, it would take an age with chopsticks to remove all of it.

    In reality it's probably only something like a large shopping bag that has broken into parts, but it looks like fish food!

    As it's almost localised, I'm tempted to just try and burn the lot.

    I was reading only recently about cellophane, and that's a plastic made from cellulose, that breaks down quickly apparently in the soil.  There are alternatives.

     All our personal domestic waste is plastic packaging - even though we do try and avoid buying plastic wrapped items.

    I hate polystyrene.  There is an outfit that makes an alternative from mushrooms.

    Plenty of materials unavoidably end up in the environment.  Glass fibre insulation has been found in the soil up mountains.  It's really ridiculous.

    Last edited: 05 December 2017 18:27:25

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 24,400

    I have had;

    Plastic sacks, bits of asbestos, glass, toys, bikes, carpets, brick rubble, lath and plaster, lumps of Tarmac, car parts, fridge, lumps of a large sheet metal fabrication, (no idea what), shoes, dozens of them. Rumour has it there's a Reliant Robin in there somewhere. If OH finds that he'll want to restore itimage

    On the plus side, huge lumps of concrete which made great steps and enough hand-made bricks for the summerhouse. 

    Much stuff still in there and I try not to bring it to the surface.

  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 1,628

    Years ago when buying fruit & vegetables , our local greengrocer carefully and skillfully wrapped everything in brown paper bags . These could be used several times before discarding them !

    Nowadays it's a different story ; everything is in polystyrene trays or plastic wrapped for the benefit of the supermarkets . Take Easter eggs for example ; normally a huge (wasteful) cardboard box , foil , plus the inevitable 'plastic-bubble' . People buy appearance , and it certainly seems to work , albeit not for the benefit of the environment . Just for the manufacturers profit ! (All for a few grams of chocolate ; you're better off buying a bar) !

    Foil-lined crisp packets are another sore point ; non-recyclable is clearly stated on the bag ; why the hell do they make them ?? How many millions of these are thrown away every day in the UK alone ??image

    Crikey Wayside , you've certainly started something here image

  • SkandiSkandi Northern DenmarkPosts: 179

    Urgh I know your pain the previous owners obviously did not pay for a bin, we find carrier bags full of rubbish everywhere, I planted a walnut tree and had to remove 5 items of clothing from where I wanted to put it, mainly old rain coats, who buries them? Just yesterday I found a old car exhaust under a bush. They had used those clear corrugated sheets for their greenhouse roof, fine but they only last 3-4 years before the UV gets them, so they had taken them down in TINY pieces and chucked it under some bushes, I've not found any way to get them up other than getting comfortable with the kneeler the dogs ball gloves and a bucket.

    If your bag is in really small pieces it's probably one of the biodegradable plastics, not sure if that makes it any better.

  • Guernsey Donkey2Guernsey Donkey2 Posts: 3,925

    We are fortunate to have dustbin collections and kerbside recycling now - which we pay for in our rates.

    Generations before were not so lucky.  Admittedly they didn't have anywhere as much rubbish to dispose of as we do now, as was mentioned by Paul. Most foods were sold to us wrapped in paper bags which we re-used until they were no longer fit for purpose.  The coal man delivered in hessian sacks which he took away with him, eggs in cardboard boxes or trays, drinks in glass bottles that were returned to the shops, the milk man poured the milk straight into our jugs - I could go on.

    When we were digging over a virgin patch of land, we came across an old dump, there were old, discarded use toothpaste tubes, rusty nails, curtain rings, medicine bottles and a few drink bottles, it was interesting to see just what constituted household rubbish in those days, before dustbin men took the rubbish away to fill the tips (old, empty quarries in our case).

  • BLTBLT Posts: 476

    At least we are trying to be vigilent and not buy things  with so much packing. Our local market still uses brown paper bags, I refuse the plastic bags and have my veg in brown bags then my reusable bag.. I try to buy meat from a butcher who wraps some in paper but still find he then places it in a small plastic bag grr.. But he says you do not need blood leakng on your bread rolls etc..

    It is far worse in USA where anywhere vaguely rural has vast burn pits and they do not care if they burn polystyrene . The reason they say is there is no trash collection in those areas leaves them little choice. Anything that won't burn costs $1 per black sack that they have to take themselves to the town dump...

    We do try to be sensible, well most of us on here at least..

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