What could our plastic reduction aims be?

If plastics which are difficult to recycle were removed from general use we would begin to have an impact on landfill rubbish which persists indefinitely.

The plastics which were collected would be much easier to sort and therefore higher volumes would be reclaimed.

Some practical tips which might have immediate effects:

  1. 1)  if the plastic being used is recyclable, ensure that it is placed in the recycling after a quick wash which removes food debris. This ensures that other other items in the recycling bin are not contaminated , for example humous or yoghurt smeared over clean paper or card.contamination can cause the entire recycling batch to be rejected and wasted.
  2. 2)  Screw plastic tops onto plastic bottles so they are not lost in the recycling plant because they are too small

Try to avoid usage of the plastics which are difficult to recycle

Start thinking …can I do things differently?

  1. 1)  always take a shopping bag out with you so that the number of new plastic bags is reduced and the number in circulation declines.
  2. 2)  use refillable containers when possible. Avoid buying a continuous supply of plastic drinks bottles.
  3. 3)  Try to avoid constant use of Clingfilm. Use resealable container to store leftovers , plates to cover dishes, reusable wraps made of fabric and beeswax or silicone sheets

Become aware of waste and litter. Pick up litter if you see it and dispose of it appropriately

4) Using non disposables requires more effort to clean, put away, etc. Be prepared to make the effort. Over time it radically reduces our use of disposables.

This is an abridged version of a feature on the Royal Horticultural Society Website. Fuller details and more information can be found here

Hedges for specific benefits

Air pollution capture            

How do they do it? Plants with small ovate, rough, hairy or scaly leaves trap small dust-like particles  – the so-called airborne particulate pollution. This is either washed to the ground by rain or falls off with old leaves.

How do I get the maximum benefits? Grow large and dense hedges to get the maximum surface area on which to trap the pollution – aim for at least 1.5m (5ft) high and 1m (3⅓ft) deep. Choose from the plant list below. In theory, one plant grown to the dimensions mentioned can capture 60 diesel cars’ worth of pollution each year. This will vary in real life, but demonstrates the pollution-capturing potential of plants and hedges.


Carbon sequestration   

How do they do it? Carbon dioxide from the air is taken in through pores in the plant and some is converted to make the woody structure. Faster-growing plants can store more carbon in less time. While large, mature hedges will store the most carbon, the overall amount stored will increase little once they are maintained at their desired size.

How do I get the maximum benefits? Choose from the plants below and allow the hedge to mature. You can improve the carbon storing by composting the clippings and using the mulch in your garden – the soil is also a great place to store carbon.

Cooling and thermal insulation  

How do they do it? Hedges provide cooling by shading the area around them and by transpiring cooling water vapour. They also insulate by filtering/blocking the wind, reducing the ‘wind chill’ on the buildings next to them.

How do I get the maximum benefits? Choose from the plant list below. Grow larger hedges as they will have a larger surface area so can shade and transpire more than small ones. However, hedges of any size will provide a proportional amount of these benefits.

Plant on the sunny side of your garden so the hedge casts more shadow in summer.  If you live in a cold area, choosing a deciduous plant as this will allow some sunlight (and warmth) through in winter.

Flood mitigation              

How do they do it? Plants with large leaf surfaces, higher rates of transpiration (i.e. losing more water vapour from leaves and stems) and evergreen canopies have been associated with greater rainfall retention, slowing the water reaching the ground and with reduced water runoff (by increasing the soil’s capacity to store water).

How do I get the maximum benefits? Grow a larger hedge as this will have a larger surface area, making it more effective. Choose from the plants list below; especially the evergreens.

  • Cotoneasters – there are deciduous and evergreens to choose from
  • Forsythia×intermedia – works best when in leaf, so good where heavy summer rains are an issue
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)  – works best when in leaf so good where heavy summer rains are an issue
  • Privet (Ligustrum species) – semi evergreen; it tends to be fully evergreen in mild areas and towns and cities.

Noise reduction

How do they do it? The leaves and stems form a physical barrier to noise.

How do I get the maximum benefits? Choose from the plants list below. Aim to grow a hedge that is wide and tall (ideally at least 2m/6⅔ft). Evergreens of dense canopies are best, reducing noise by about 8dB. Clipping a hedge will make the surface denser over 5-15 years, which will increase the effectiveness of noise barrier.

If noise reduction is the priority in your garden, but you don’t have a lot of space, you may want to plant a shrub border in front of a hedge to achieve the above required depth. The hedge needs to planted between you/the house and the source of the noise (e.g. a road) for best results.

Support for wildlife         

How do they do it? Most provide shelter for birds, and some hedges (such as common yew, hawthorn and pyracantha) also provide food such as berries and flowers to provide pollen and nectar for insects.

How do I get the maximum benefits? Plant a mixed hedge to extend flowering and fruiting times. This could be a mixture of the plants below or a native mixed hedge (a type offered by suppliers containing plants including beech, hawthorn and roses). Supporting wildlife isn’t just about planting a hedge, so don’t forget to include other insect and bird friendly plants in your garden.