It’s a plastic world but we can fight the climate emergency by using less plastic in the garden. It’s trashing the environment and the energy used in producing and transporting it throughout the globe is a major contributor to CO2 emissions.

Plastic has seduced us all: it’s cheap, light, easy and comfortable to use and does the work of a fleet of assistant gardeners. There’s no realistic alternative to plastic for polytunnels, cloches or garden hoses.

I freely admit I was addicted to plastic but am coming to see the error of my ways even if it’s sometimes hard to kick the habit.

We needn’t use plastic pots, plant labels, ground cover sheeting, tool handles and watering cans. Alternatives might seem a bit more expensive, but that isn’t true when you add in the environmental cost of plastic.

I’m not suggesting you should clear the potting shed of plastic. That would be wasteful, so use what you’ve got and find alternative replacements.

Large, light, plastic planters last for years but the energy cost for producing galvanised metal pots is much lower. Porous materials like terracotta doesn’t subject plants to such large temperature swings and the roots appreciate the extra air supply.

The ubiquitous black pots beloved of garden centres are hard to avoid. But some enlightened mail order companies are now using alternatives: buy from them and harry your garden centre into stocking the same.

There’s nothing sacrosanct about plastic seed trays. Wooden ones are available and are easy to make if you’re into DIY. Old pallet boards are crying out to be used. Again, seedlings benefit from additional supplies of air.

Don’t prick out into plastic pots: buy fibre, bamboo and other biodegradable materials, or make your own. As well as using toilet roll holders, you could wrap strips of cardboard to a pot shape and hold together with paper tape.

Place these modules in a wooden box like a seed tray with holes drilled for drainage, and preferably with a removable side. When large enough, gently remove and plant the modules, keeping the lip of the pot below the surface to prevent moisture wicking. An old furniture drawer would also do.

And labelling? By using wooden or slate labels, you’ll stop unearthing bits of broken plastic in the ground. Yes, the writing smudges on wood, but my pencilled scrawl on plastic also fades in time.

Black plastic sheeting is a menace. How often do little fragments break off, only to reappear years later in the soil. Just the other day when using my compost and leafmould for a potting, I picked out little black strips of woven ground cover I had laid several years ago. Alternatives include woven hessian and sheep’s wool.

Micro-plastics don’t just litter the soil, they damage living organisms. A study published last September in the Environmental Science and Technology journal found this plastic damaged earthworms. After a 30-day trial, they lost 3% of body weight, while those in control, plastic-free plots gained 5%. The plastic also reduced soil pH and a rye grass crop was shorter.

Jute string may not be as durable as good old baler twine or polyester string but it doesn’t add to our worms’ distress. And it lasts for 2-3 years when made into pea netting. But give me pea sticks any day and natural plant supports, not rigid plastic ones.

Without an endless supply of branches and poles like me, why not devote a corner to a coppicing stand of hazel? Within a few years, you’ll have a decent harvest. Spring pruned cornus and willow wands make great poles after their winter display of coloured stems.

Plant of the week

Iris siberica ‘Blue King’ has deep blue petals intricately veined at the base and held on 1m tall stems allowing you to get really close to appreciate the detail. Needs moist soil.