Trash Hacker: Plastic Produce or Bakery Box = Mini Greenhouse

Baby Beets in a Lettuce Box Greenhouse, photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

by Rebecca Rockefeller

Ever come across one of those clear plastic boxes used to package fresh greens and bakery goods at your local grocery store? As part of my family’s shift to no-new-plastic zero waste living, we’ve found other ways to get our greens and grains. These plastic boxes are not currently recyclable here, and even if they were, their downcycling would likely require the input of virgin plastic feedstock.

But we’re always ready to snag a few of these boxes from our neighbors’ trash cans. We wash them out, add a few ventilation holes or slits if desired, and pop them over tender seedlings. Each one becomes a mini greenhouse/cold frame for the plants it covers, offering heat and a bit of protection from slugs, birds, rambunctious dogs, and other threats to baby plants. When our plants outgrow them, we stack the empty boxes on our garden bench and save them for the next round. It’s a great way to delay their trip to our landfill while pressing them into the service of local food production.

Winter Squash Seedling Basking in the Heat of a Lettuce Box, photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

If you’re looking for more ideas for reusing plastic containers, try our Trash Backwards app where you can look up any item and find a reuse for it.

Click Through for Plastic Container Reuses at Trash Backwards

Click Through for Plastic Container Reuses at Trash Backwards


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Categories: DIY, Repurpose and Reuse, Trash Hacker, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff


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8 Comments on “Trash Hacker: Plastic Produce or Bakery Box = Mini Greenhouse”

  1. May 30, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    If they do not have labels, our local farmers market vendors collect and reuse them.

    • May 30, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

      Thanks for this tip, Al! Where exactly is your farmers market so we can pass this along? Different areas have different rules regarding the reuse of things like this by vendors, so it’s very helpful to have the hyper-local specifics!

  2. walrissa
    July 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    Reblogged this on Green Momma Adventures and commented:
    I have several of these right now and it has been cooold up here this summer so I think I will put them to use in the morning. I’m also going to put the row cover back on some of the squash in the big garden.
    I’ll use the produce boxes on some late-planted cucumbers and weigh them down with a few river rocks. Right now many of the plants have stunted growth due to the cold temperatures and wind so let’s hope this does the trick.

    • July 12, 2012 at 12:13 am #

      We’ve got our fingers crossed for your cucumbers and squash – We’ve been lucky recently with a bit of warm weather here, but it’s never a given and we might still have to put our produce boxes back to work before fall. Please let us know how it goes for you!

      • walrissa
        July 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

        I’ll do that! I just have to find the scissors to cut off the tops and I’m in business! I am really looking forward to delving into your blog (and app!) in the next few days – great information!

      • Rebecca Rockefeller
        July 12, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

        Thanks! We’re happy you found us! Our app is still under development – We’ll let you know when it’s ready to launch; our database has all the information from our site here plus a whole lot more…

      • walrissa
        July 13, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

        Awesome! Thanks. My “struggling in 58 degrees” cucumbers thank you too. 🙂


  1. Zero Waste Household Guide: Garden Tips « Trash Backwards - July 12, 2012

    […] Reuse what you’ve got or what you can rescue from your neighbors’ trash and recycle bin: Metal gelatin molds from thrift stores and garage sales can adorn a garden wall or fence and come down from their nails to double as plastic-free beach toys in the summer. […]

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