Take part in new research on plastic pollution

We’ve teamed up with Coventry University for a citizen science project to discover more about plastic contamination in soils.
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What are plastics doing to your soil?

How do microplastics affect your soil and growing space? We’d like to get your thoughts for a new project with Coventry University’s Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR).

We want to know more about how different plastics are used in vegetable plots, community gardens and allotments and determine ways of minimising further contamination.

Plastics in the garden

Worldwide plastic use is increasing rapidly and it can be easy for gardens and greenhouses to fill up with plastic products such as plant pots and modules, labels, mulches and polytunnel coverings.

But inevitably, these materials degrade to release microplastic fragments that may affect the functioning of soil life. Plastic particles are also brought into gardens as contaminants in composts and manures and are deposited from airborne dust and floodwater. Although awareness of this pollution is growing more research is needed to understand its significance.

Plastic pollution pilot project

We’re delighted this project has been given funding by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for a six-month pilot project called: Co-creating Citizen Science for Reducing Plastic Contamination of Soil in Community Food Growing Spaces (REPAS).

Your knowledge and input is essential in helping us develop effective and replicable methods. We’d like to work with gardeners and growers to co-develop methods of assessing plastics that are already in the soil and reduce further contamination.

This citizen science-centred research builds on previous collaboration with CAWR, including the recent NERC-funded EDENS project.

How you can help

We have a short survey as a first step to understanding people’s use of plastics and their concerns. Click here to take part.

This will be followed by a series of six regional workshops which will examine the issues in more detail. You’ll then help us co-create methodologies for analysing plastic contamination in food-growing soils.

This work will be used as a basis for an application to NERC for funding for a longer-term project to enable the findings to be rolled out more widely.

Dates for soil plastic workshops

We'd love you to join us at the following workshops:

Shropshire

Thursday 22 Feb

3.30-5.30pm

The Bradbury Room, Drapers Place, Horsefair, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, SY2 6BP4

Book via email here


Cumbria

Saturday 2 March

10am-4pm

Penrith Quaker Meeting House, Meeting House Lane, Penrith, CA11 7TR.

Book via email here


Leicester

Monday 4 March

7-9.30 pm

Dining Room, Beaumont Hall, University of Leicester, Stoughton Drive, Oadby, Leicester, LE2 2NA

Book here


Norfolk

Sat 9 March 2024

10am-3pm (with lunch included)

Norfolk Room, The Conference Suite, Breckland Council, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE.

Book here


North Somerset

Wednesday 13 March

6pm-8.30pm

The Other Place, Meadow Street, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 1QL

Book via email here



Coventry

Tuesday 20 Feb

6.30-8.30pm

Earlsdon Library, Earlsdon Ave N, Earlsdon, Coventry, CV5 6FZ


Saturday 16 March

10-3pm

Beechwood Allotments, Beechwood Ave, Coventry, CV5 6AG


Monday 8 April

12-4 pm

CAWR, CAWR Laboratories, Ryton Organic Gardens, Wolston Lane, Coventry, CV8 3LG

Book any Coventry event via email here


Read more about the damage done by garden plastics and how to reduce plastic use in your garden.

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