Garden Club and Master Gardeners volunteer at Pots to Planks event

Sunday, June 15, 2008 | 5:37 p.m. CDT; updated 8:41 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Columbia — This past weekend, members of the Columbia Garden Club and Master Gardeners gathered at Superior Garden Center off Old 63 South to volunteer at the Pots to Planks recycling event.

“We will be collecting plastic pots that are normally thrown away during the planting season to be recycled,” said Karen Blackmore, Pots to Planks volunteer coordinator.

Columbia Garden Club and Master Gardeners partnered with Gary Ryan, who owns a plastics recycling plant in Millersburg. Ryan will melt the pots down and transform them into landscape timbers.

“Because of what we do, we know ... there are lots of pots out there,” Blackmore said. “We certainly prefer to turn them into something useful.”

Throughout the weekend, volunteers sorted, cleaned and bagged pots.

About 3,000 pounds, which is roughly 100,000 pots, of plastic will be collected, Ryan said. But, he said, “If you had to bend down and pick up every item ... it seemed like 22 million.”

With the plastic collected from this event, Ryan can make 43 landscape timbers.

The landscape timbers weigh 70 pounds, are 8 feet long and made of solid black plastic. Ryan sells these timbers in the area, but he has had buyers from St. Louis as well because his product is unique and hard to find. The product has a long lifespan, he said, since it does not rot.

Often, Ryan said, recycling efforts lose their value after calculating in transport and labor.

“The only way to make recycling work is you have to make it really organized.” Ryan said that “really organized” translates to “figure out a way to use volunteer labor.” That’s exactly what occurred this past weekend.

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