Sansevieria plant, with watering tray and plant label made from a black and a white recycled plastic container respectively.
Reduce, Reuse Recycle
We can all produce less waste by practicing the “3 Rs” – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
By reducing the amount of disposable materials we buy, reusing what we have, and recycling existing materials, we reduce demand on non-renewable resources. Every little bit counts, including what we use in the garden!
Here’s a quick and easy project, recycling plastic polypropylene food grade containers to make plant labels and pot plant watering trays.
Each container will produce one watering tray and twenty or so plant labels, which is not bad considering it only takes a few minutes effort, costs nothing, and saves you going out and purchasing the items.
Making Plastic Plant Labels & Watering Trays – All From the One Recycled Container
- sharp craft knife or any other sharp blade with a flat handle that can be securely clamped to tabletop
- wooden block/s to elevate knife blade to correct height
- clamp (one will do but two are better for added safety!)
- plastic container
- sturdy scissors/shears
- steel ruler and cutting board (scrap timber) (optional)
1. Position the craft knife on top of the wooden elevating block, and clamp down to table or work surface.
2. Place container flat on work surface, and position bottom edge against blade point.
3. Rotate container, bracing it with both hands if necessary (keep fingers clear of the blade) and rotate so blade tip scores the plastic.
4. Keep rotating container against the blade until it starts cutting right through, then rotate slowly and carefully, making sure the base is kept flat on the supporting table at all time.
5. Base cut through and separated to form a watering tray that can be used under a pot plant.
6. Cut off top and dispose of it in your recycle bin (unless you can figure out another use for it!).
7. Sides separated from top end bottom, this will be used to make the plant labels.
8. Cut through along the side to unroll the plastic sheet flat.
9. Cut the sheet into strips. Here are two ways to do this:
A. At this point, you can just cut off strips with a sturdy pair of scissors/shears.
B. Or you can place the plastic sheet on a flat surface (that you don’t mind damaging, as it will get badly scored by the knife blade), and cut the strips using the craft knife and a steel ruler as a guide. This method will produce nice straight regular cuts and is very fast.
Be careful of your fingers and make sure that everything is held down well so the blade does not slip! The plastic is slippery, and can slide over the cutting surface.
10. Once the strips are cut, remove the corners on one end to make a point. This container produced 21 plant labels!
A few helpful tips:
- By adjusting the height of the spacer under the blade, you can make your trays deeper or shallower to suit your requirements.
- If you use whiteboard markers to write on your labels, you can simply wipe them clean and re-use them. Obviously, you would only do this for high turnover applications, not exposed to weather, such as seedling trays.
So now you can have labels for your pots and seed punnets, and watering trays for your small pots, all made from recycled materials!