Figaro's Blog

April 13, 2023

Putting the Green Back in Gardening with Launch of Low Waste Growing Product Line

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Figaro’s Garden owner Hartley Rosen is passionate about waste in the gardening industry.

“There’s this perception that we’re in a green industry because ultimately, planting more trees and encouraging diversity through thoughtful gardening provides a benefit to our planet,” he says. “But behind the scenes, the waste that comes along with it is just ridiculous.”

Is the garden industry really green?

Figaro’s Garden may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about waste in the retail sector. But for Hartley, who has seen firsthand the single-use products and packaging that dominates the industry, the waste is untenable.

“It’s incredibly difficult to get away from single-use plastic,” says Hartley. Plants are grown in plastic nursery pots, soils and amendments come in plastic bags, and plant tags are—you guessed it—made of plastic. With 22 years’ involvement in the horticulture industry (he was the director of the Environmental Youth Alliance prior to purchasing Figaro’s Garden 10 years ago), Hartley knew he needed to do things differently.

Challenging ourselves to do better

“Many of our customers live in smaller spaces and grow in containers, so we sell a lot of potting soil,” Hartley says. “People also come to us for our specialty soil mixes and indoor tropical plants, and of course all their fertilizers and other growing supplies.” All of these products have traditionally been packaged in plastic bags—until now.

A father and daughter plant an espaliered apple tree. They have their backs to the camera.

Figaro’s Garden Owner Hartley Rosen planting an espaliered apple tree with his daughter. (Apples are another of Hartley’s many passions!)

On April 22—Earth Day 2023—Figaro’s Garden is launching a new line of products packaged in responsible, plastic-free packaging. The 21 products include indoor and specialty potting soils; fertilizers and amendments; and bird seed. Outdoor soils, including organic garden soil and a potting blend, will be transitioned to the new packaging later in the spring.

The hope is that, by packing our most popular products using responsible materials, Figaro’s Garden can help reduce single-use plastic waste in Vancouver. On top of that, we were able to work with local suppliers to create soil blends customized to our specifications.

Delivering a better product

We’re thrilled that we’ve been able to address some of the product quality issues we’ve been dealing with in recent years, and are really proud of the improved soil blends—in particular, our new tropical potting blend—we’ve developed in collaboration with Langley-based West Creek Farms.

The result is a better product with less waste—and a lower cost to consumers. “We’re able to save money by buying in bulk, and can pass that along to our customers,” says Hartley, who adds that he estimates that Figaro’s Garden will eliminate upwards of 6,000 plastic bags annually.

Responsible packaging

Products in the Low Waste Growing line are packaged in recycled paper, returnable glass, and compostable burlap.

We went through several iterations, trying to find the most sustainable, most effective materials for packaging these products, and ended up going with different materials depending on the product.

Liquid fertilizers—including liquid organic fish and all-purpose kelp fertilizers—are packaged in returnable, refillable glass jars. Customers who return and refill their jar can enjoy 10 percent off the refill price.

Outdoor soils are packaged in burlap bags, which can be composted in Vancouver green bins or reused in the garden.

Dry fertilizers, amendments, bird feed, and specialty potting blends are packaged in recycled paper bags that are 60% compostable and 40% biodegradable.

The paper bags are lined with PLA, a biodegradable material that strengthens and improves the durability of the bag, which is important for products that may contain a little moisture or are too dusty to pack in burlap. Going this route was a tough compromise for Figaro’s because, while PLA is compostable in many jurisdictions, it is not yet accepted in Vancouver’s green bin program.

“It’s not an ideal solution, but it’s the best available right now,” Hartley says.

Committed to continuous improvement

We recognize that there’s always more to do when it comes to sustainability. Reducing plastic in our packaging is a small step, but one we’re proud to have made. We are committed to continuing to seek opportunities to reduce waste, both in our packaging, and in our operations.


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Whether you're an experienced horticulturist, or looking for your first plant, our team at Figaro's Garden is excited to help you realize your plant and garden dreams. Contact us today or stop by the shop to see what's in-store.

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