Despite the ban, plastics are everywhere — from water bottles to carry bags and even kitchen essentials. Now, it has even invaded the city’s gardening space.
Easily available, mass produced and cheaper plastic pots for planting are slowly replacing terracotta and clay pots. So much so that finding eco-friendly planters in local nurseries in the city has become a difficult task.
Even the horticulture hotspot of Bengaluru, the Lalbagh Botanical Garden, has more plastic, ceramic and cement pots than mud pots.
So where have the terracotta and simple clay pots gone? S. Chandershaker, who hails from a family that has traditionally been into pottery, and owner of SSC Pottery Works in Pottery Town, says the occupation itself is dying. “Finding the raw material, clay, is tough. The dying city lakes have affected our profession as well. Also, the younger generation from our families don’t want to enter this profession as it is not lucrative.”
Sandhya R., who recently started gardening, says: “Mud and terracotta are eco-friendly, but one has to really go in search of them. Plastic pots are easily available. They are also lighter and easy to maintain.”
A nursery on Old Mysuru Road sells cement and plastic pots. “People ask for plastic mostly, which costs ₹30 to ₹60 depending on the size. It is easy for us to source as well, unlike clay,” said Pushpalatha, the owner.
But, plastic and cement are bad for gardening, say organic urban gardeners.
Suresh Rao, who has been growing his own food for a decade, said: “Plastic generates heat. It can reduce the lifespan of a plant. A bigger problem is these pots add to the carbon footprint. Only a few nurseries have clay pots, but these too are being replaced by plastic and cement pots. Terracotta is impossible to find in local gardening outlets. But, even if one manages to find it, the rates are too high.”
Grow bags — some of which are biodegradable — are preferred by these organic growers instead. “Cement is good for permanent structures in lawns, but they don’t work for terrace and home gardens, where the load of the pot is a concern. The round shape of grow bags ensure roots can spread. A biodegradable grow bag is a good alternative to terracotta and mud pots,” he said.
Channe Gowda, secretary, Nurserymen Cooperative Society Ltd., Lalbagh, agrees that the demand for plastic pots are far greater than that of mud pots. “But, we do have people buying mud pots from us. The main reason people buy plastic pots is because it is light weight. But we ensure we have stock of mud pots in the nursery always.”