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  • Writer's pictureRobin Ankerich

Sustainable Sunday - Reusing Takeout Containers to Grow Micro Greens


I’m certainly not perfect. I occasionally must purchase goods sold in plastic. Gernerally these are products which need to be in plastic due to moisture, tampering, or other issues. Because of the challenges faced buy the plastic recycling (or may I say downcycling) industry, I find that it is better to attempt to reuse plastic rather than (or before) recycling. Reuse is the third “R” in the 5 “R” of the Zero Waste Movement and run in order from first to last resort – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Root.

Because of the pandemic, like everyone else, we’ve ended our in-restaurant dining and now only occasionally grab takeout as a treat. While some restaurants in Florida offer eco-friendly compostable packaging, most sadly, do not. With our takeout, I now have a handful of lidded plastic containers that are in need of reuse. I find that some are great for making blocks of ice to keep coolers cold. My favorite way to reuse plastic takeout containers is for growing micro greens. The ones with a clear lid make excellent greenhouses in which to germinate seeds.

Growing Microgreens

Microgreens are also called baby greens. They differ from sprouts which are typically grown without soil. Microgreens can be growns form many commonly eaten vegetables from lettuce greens to radishes greens, pea sprouts and more. In some stores you can find micro greens and sprouts sold on plastic packaging in the salad section. Growing them at home cuts out the clam shell containers and allows you to grow exactly how much you want.

How to Grow Microgreens?

  1. Use a shallow container, like a takeout container or pie tin. Pour in an inch of some sort of soil. This can be organic potting soil, but personally I prefer mushroom compost. Don’t use soils containing chemical agents like Miracle Grow because you will be eating these baby greens.

  2. Sprinkle seeds across the soil. Some people do a presoak, but I find this step superfluous.

  3. Sprinkle the top of the seeds with and additional. 25” of soil.

  4. Mist with a water using a spray bottle until soil is very damp but not waterlogged. Cover with lid and place in a warm sunny spot. By a window works best. I set mine out on our balcony.

  5. The next day check the moisture level. It should still feel damp to the touch. With the lid acting as a green house, you should not need to add much more water. If it is drying out give a spray of water.

  6. Continue checking on them once a day. Depending on the vegetable variety some will emerge with 2-3 days while others may take longer. Watch for tall growing greens. Once they are too tall for the lid, you can remove it. Without a lid you will need to more closely monitor the moisture level

  7. You can decide when you are ready to harvest. It could be within a few days or up to two weeks. Take a pair of scissors and clip what you plan on eating.

When I don’t forget them, I enjoy mine in in salads, on sandwiches and in wraps!

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