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Frustrated Home Depot employee shares photo of countless carts full of gardening products wasted for no good reason: 'Not our call'

"The vendor maintains and decides what plants are [sellable] and which ones don't make the cut."

"The vendor maintains and decides what plants are [sellable] and which ones don't make the cut."

Photo Credit: Reddit

A frustrated employee shared images of a staggering amount of plants set for the garbage at their Home Depot, sparking a heated discussion about the company's supply chain. 

What happened?

The employee posted a series of photos in a subreddit community for Home Depot associates not officially affiliated with the company. Rows and rows of carts are filled to the brim with a variety of plants — overwhelmingly potted in what appears to be plastic

"Senseless waste," the original poster simply said

"Just yesterday, I saw so many tomato plants get tossed," one commenter responded. "I just think what could have happened if we donated it to a garden."

"The vendor maintains and decides what plants are [sellable] and which ones don't make the cut."
Photo Credit: Reddit

Why is this important? 

Tossing plants back into the earth may not seem like a worrying prospect, but when organic matter rots, it releases methane, a potent planet-warming gas. Of course, the practices of a single store won't throw the whole planet's climate out of balance. 

However, the collective policies and actions of companies across multiple sectors are contributing to overconsumption of resources and rising global temperatures. This can ultimately impact the availability and costs of essentials like food

Additionally, the majority of plastics are made from dirty fuels. While biodegradable potting options do exist, any heat-trapping pollution created during the manufacturing of the soon-to-be-discarded containers was basically generated for nothing.   

Depending on the type of plastic used, these pots will take tens to hundreds of years to decompose, shedding toxic microplastics. The exact impacts of microplastics on human health are under investigation, but exposure to them has been linked to severe health concerns, including dementia, reproductive issues, and cancer

Why would Home Depot toss these plants? 

Multiple commenters suggested that Home Depot doesn't have the final say about what happens to the plants because they come from outside vendors. 

"Not our product, not our call," one person wrote

"The vendor maintains and decides what plants are [sellable] and which ones don't make the cut," another person said

It's unclear which vendors the products are from or which state the store is in. A dive into some of the company's spotlighted suppliers reveals a focus on sustainability, including water conservation practices. 

For its part, Home Depot also announced a multiyear partnership with its suppliers in 2019 aimed at reducing the use of plastic. According to the company website, it has eliminated or recycled over 35 million pounds of plastic since 2021. However, no nurseries are featured.

What can be done about consumer waste more broadly?

Complex and intersecting factors can impact a company's overall environmental impact, but educating yourself about critical climate issues can help you make savvy decisions about which brands, initiatives, or products you want to support. 

If you aspire to eliminate toxic plastics from your life, there are plenty of alternatives that can give you more bang for your buck, from long-lasting metal razors to silicone containers

Gardeners who want to declutter their homes may also be intrigued by hacks that repurpose old cardboard boxes into biodegradable, plastic-free pots that allow plants to grow without the risk of transplant shock. 

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