Is It Safe to Grow Food In Plastic Containers?

There is an ongoing debate about whether or not it is safe to grow food in plastic containers. What do you think?

This is something that we see a lot of debate about in organic gardening circles. Is it safe to grow fruits and vegetables in plastic containers? Some object to chemicals that could leach from the plastic into the soil, be absorbed by the plants’ roots, and eventually into your own body when you consume the produce. And plastic certainly isn’t the most sustainable material choice when it comes to the environment.

Then again, it can be hard to find planting containers that don’t contain plastic, and metal and clay pots have their own issues, and may also contain toxins anyway. Growing your own organic food is more sustainable in general, since you are reducing resource use in food transportation, and reducing pesticide use in the environment. And plastic is certainly convenient since it is lightweight and durable.

So what is the answer?

Here’s how The Urban Gardener rationalizes the use of plastic containers for planting:

  • The containers are being saved from the landfill. While this doesn’t directly effect my health. It does effect the health and well being of the planet, which in turn effects my health. None of the containers were purchased. All of them were already used.
  • I’m growing organically. The soil, plants, compost, manure tea and even the water is filtered. Does that counter balance any potential leaching? I dunno, but in my mind in kind of does.
  • Since I don’t have land, what am I going to use if I don’t use plastic containers? I’d have to buy pots of some sort which would increase the amount of money being spent and resources used in the production of the pots.

As for us at Sustainable Gardening News, we don’t currently do a lot of container gardening, but the pots we do use are typically either plastic or clay, and usually these are for flowers – not food plants. We do start some spring seedlings in plastic trays, but of course the plants are only in these for a few weeks before being planted out into the garden.

What’s your take on it? Do you garden in plastic containers? Do you feel they are safe, or not, and if so, why? Chime in below or on our Facebook page and let us know what you think!


Rose S.

An avid gardener since childhood, I love sharing my passion for gardening with others! I have gardened in a number of different climates and settings, from large fenced garden plots, to tiny patio and container gardens, and I firmly believe that everyone can learn to grow at least some of their own food - no matter where you live. Growing your own food can help you take control of your own health and food supply, and there has never been a better time to get started!

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