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Supported by Generation Green

Bins in bloom

Rescue rubbish from the bin and use it creatively to make your garden green in more than one way.

You will need

  • Clean items of recycling
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Gardening tools
  • String
  • Compost
  • Sticky labels
  • Plants or seeds
  • Trays or plates
  • Watering can
  • Craft knife (optional)
  • Sharp screwdriver or nail (optional)
  • Block of wood (optional)
Activity Plan Bins In Bloom
PDF – 708.8KB

Before you begin

  • Everyone should collect items that, with a bit of imagination, could make great plant pots. You can get creative with this, from reusing fruit or vegetable punnets, to giving old shoes a new life. If you’ve done Litter splitter, you could use items of litter already collected.
  • Everyone should think about the sorts of plants they’d like to grow. Different plants have different needs, so think about the plants that will work best for your group and the items you have to hand.
    • Will they need good drainage?
    • How much space will they have to grow?

Safety checklist

Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional coronavirus-related controls to think about may include:

  • Set up a hand washing station that you can use throughout the session.
  • Wash hands before and after using any shared equipment or after handling earth.
  • Clean any shared equipment before and after use.
  • To reduce the sharing of equipment, everyone could bring in their own containers to turn into plant pots.
  • Decide in advance how best to make the drainage holes. Think about how you’ll supervise the group if they’re making the drainage holes – social distancing means you won’t be able to get close to them to help. You may decide to make the drainage holes before the activity begins.
  • Remind everyone to stay a safe distance apart at all times.

Reduce, reuse, recycle  

  1. Everyone should discuss the principles of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. As well as making sure we dispose of our waste responsibly, we can help to protect the environment by:
    • reducing the amount of waste we create
    • reusing items
    • recycling anything that can be recycled
  2. Everyone should discuss what can be recycled locally, and how. Think about what you can put in your recycling bins at home. Can anyone think of something that would need to be taken to a recycling centre or collection point (for example at a supermarket)? What about things that aren’t currently recyclable? Find out about recycling in your local area.
  3. Encourage everyone to share examples of something they’ve reused in a new way. Discuss how creating plant pots can be great way of reusing items that would otherwise have gone to landfill or have required energy to be recycled. Using them to grow plants instead means we’ll help the environment in lots of ways.

Environmentally friendly gardening

  1. Everyone should talk about why growing plants can be good for our environment. Plants help to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. They can create food for us, provide habitats for wildlife, and help regulate the water cycle as well.
  2. Everyone should think of ways we can be environmentally friendly gardeners. This means thinking carefully about which plants to grow and how we grow them. We should avoid non-native invasive plants and try to go peat-free. We could grow bee-friendly plants or reduce our food miles by growing our own food.

Make your pots

  1. Everyone should make their own plant pot out of an unwanted item that is suitable for the plant they want to grow.
  2. Everyone should cut their items down to size and make holes for drainage if needed. The best way to make drainage holes depends on the item and what it is made from – you could use scissors, a hole punch or a craft knife. Try using a screwdriver or sharp nail to make small holes. Put something like a block of wood behind the surface you’re making holes in. Make sure an adult is involved to keep this step safe.
  3. Everyone should line the bottom of their plant pot with gravel or stones to help it drain.
  4. Everyone should fill their plant pot with compost, then put in their plants or sow their seeds.
  5. Everyone should label their own plant pot, so they can remember what has been planted, and stand it on a tray or plate to catch water.
  6. Everyone should make finishing touches: add labels to tell people what has been planted, draw symbols saying how much water or sunlight the plant likes, or find a way to hang the plant pot.
  7. Everyone should take care of their plant or seeds by watering them when the soil begins to dry out.
  8. Everyone should look after their plant as it grows. How does it change? What does it feel like? Does it have a smell? Is it ready to harvest or eat? The group could take photos or do drawings to explore the growth and change.


This activity was about valuing the outdoors by learning more about plants, and helping your community by preventing unwanted items from being put in the bin. How did it feel creating your very own piece of nature? What did you learn about what plants need to grow and thrive? What was it like giving an unwanted item a new life? Share items you have recently discarded and decide whether these could work as planters. Think big – anything from an old bathtub to broken blenders, wonky side tables or cracked drawers can make a new home for greenery.


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.


Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Rubbish and recycling

All items should be clean and suitable for this activity.

Gardening and nature

Everyone must wash their hands after the activity has finished. Wear gloves if needed. Explain how to safely use equipment and set clear boundaries so everyone knows what’s allowed.

Hand and electric tools
  • Inspect tools for any damage before each use. An adult should supervise people using tools, and people should follow instructions on how to use them correctly and safely. Tools should be properly maintained and kept sharp.
  • Use an appropriate surface and make sure materials are stable and supported when you’re working on them. You should cut and drill away from the body and in an area clear of other people.
  • Be extra cautious of trailing cables and water when using electric tools; use a cordless tool if one’s available.