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  1. Well done. And yes, it is a bit of a conundrum trying to weigh the environmental impacts and costs of plastic production, use and disposal against the benefits achieved by using it. I try to use plastic when it’s most beneficial and re-use plastic items whenever possible. Thus I collect used plastic 2 and 5 gallon pails from the bakery whenever possible instead of buying new ones. I used good(expensive) UV resistant greenhouse plastic that lasted for a number of years and patched holes with repair tape as needed and avoided the cheaper plastic sheeting which would break down in the sun within a year.

    It sounds like you’ve done a similar cost/benefit analysis and are a thoughtful user of plastic when it’s most beneficial.

    1. You’re right Ani- cost includes both dollars spent and time/labor. Depending on your labor cost it might be wiser to spend dollars on infrastructure to reduce labor.
      We too have found that non UV greenhouse plastic doesn’t last more than a season.
      Thanks for reading!

  2. I enjoyed your article very much and learned several things. While there appears to be an up-front cost, the materials would last a long time if cared for properly.

    We reuse our plastic items over and over; I am still using 12 year old tarps and buckets and milk crates. When we can squeeze another use out of it, we either put it in the bone yard, burn it or chip it, depending on size. As homesteaders, we don’t produce enough bad off-product to even measure. China, Russia, India, and Africa produce the majority of bad environmental effects and I would love to send the environmental groups to those countries where they might do some good.

    1. Good question Charles. The way we build our greenhouses, the bows are the structure that everything attaches to. The wirelock, endwalls, purlins, and other bracing are all attached to the bows with self tapping framing screws. This provides a durable structure that lasts for many years. PVC framing would not give us the same lasting performance of metal. With the snow loads we get up here, strength and durability are important. PVC does work well for the mini row cover hoops as detailed above. Though even the UV stable conduit tends to break down after 4-5 years.
      Thanks for reading!

    2. In FL, the UV resistant PVC electrical conduit seems to start to deteriorate after about three years. I have a dome made from 1 in. conduit that was up for a few years. I need to paint the struts and hubs before I reassemble it. Hopefully, that will extend the useful life of the PVC.

      I would recommend that you paint all outdoor PVC structures, regardless of stated UV resistance.

  3. I think plastic and other petroleum-based products are responsible for the cancer problems our country has. You better stock up before SHTF. Consider buying something more sturdy to cover your greenhouse going into the future to help deal with the solar minimum and extreme weather (hail) coming our way.

  4. What a comprehensive article! Great descriptions of the process, including the pitfalls. I have first-hand experience with the benefits of this method: lots and lots of high quality produce (may not be able to close the frig door from time to time!). However, I’m left with questions and a desire for more info with lots of detailed illustrations. Have you thought of writing a book on this? I would buy it. Just an idea…

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