Article, Plastic Pollution, Plastic-Free, Sustainable News

Microplastics Are Wreaking Havoc On Our Public Gardens

May 05, 2021
Kelsey Pence
Contributing Author
Kelsey Pence
Contributing Author

We all know how harmful plastic pollution is to our oceans. But many people don’t realize just how devastating of an impact microplastic pollution has had on land, and, more specifically, on the world’s public gardens.

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic debris that have broken down from plastic products. They often end up in our waste water which becomes problematic for farms and gardens that rely on waste water to make sewage sludge, which is then used to make soil, fertilizer and special muches. Sewage sludge is actually just the collection of solid pieces that are filtered out of our waste water. We’d like to think the pieces being filtered out are things like food particles packed with nutrients, which would be great for future soil and fertilizer. But in reality, today’s sludge is filled with an enormous amount of microplastics. 

So, when microplastics end up in our waste water, they end up back in our land. 

“Gardens have diverse visitor demographics,” said Tommy Rosenbluth, who is the Program Manager of the Climate and Sustainability Alliance for the American Public Gardens Association. “While one might assume that someone visiting a garden is aware about the damage of plastic pollution to the earth, I would say like much of the United States population, education is still needed to raise awareness about just how harmful the plastic life cycle is.”

At Boxed Water, we believe it’s important to support other organizations that are looking out for our planet.That’s why we’re proud to announce that we’ve joined the American Public Gardens Association, which is an organization that offers education and networking opportunities to its members as well as to public gardens worldwide. They provide resources needed to ensure the future of public gardens while sustainably preserving and celebrating plants at the same time. We love their mission.

“Plastic production and use is a climate issue and it’s a human health issue,” Rosenbluth said. “A lot of garden visitors may know to not use single-use consumer plastics like straws or plastic bags, but they may not understand the enormity of the task at-hand in reducing our use and dependence on plastic.”

Rosenbluth is hoping the Climate and Sustainability Alliance can help public gardens lead by example.

“Public gardens are experts in protecting, conserving, and championing plants,” he said. “It is vital that sustainability be at the core of everything they do operationally to ensure that nature and people can thrive into the future together.” 

The American Public Gardens Association is committed to helping its member gardens become leaders in sustainability and global climate change awareness.

“As institutions that work closely with their communities and have a footprint outside their garden walls, public gardens need to be a sustainable development model, especially when it comes to horticultural best practices,” Rosenbluth said. 

Morton Arboretum is a member of the American Public Gardens Association and has been carrying Boxed Water Is Better for over five years. They’re leading by example by ditching single-use plastic.

One of the perks the American Public Gardens Association offers to its members is access to the Public Gardens Sustainability Index which shares examples of how gardens are contributing to best practices in sustainability. The index also shares educational resources for members to learn about sustainable best practices on a multitude of topics from energy, materials management, design, and climate. 

“Gardens incorporate sustainability in a multitude of ways,” Rosenbluth said. “Many gardens are designed in ways that ensure operational activities conserve both water and energy through LEED certified buildings, using recycled materials for building, limiting use of fossil fuel powered equipment and vehicles, or expanding land ownership to develop ecologically important landscapes to thwart development.”

The American Public Gardens Association is hosting Go Public Gardens Days from May 7-16 in an effort to encourage people to visit and volunteer at their public gardens. Click here to find a garden near you! Interested in joining the American Public Gardens Association? Learn how to get involved.

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