Polyethylene (PE) mulch provides significant benefits to fruit and vegetable producers because it has the potential to improve crop quality and increase yield. However, the use of PE mulch generates plastic pollution, posing challenges to the sustainability of fruit and vegetable production. Plastic biodegradable mulches (BDMs) are a sustainable alternative to PE mulch because they are designed to decompose into water, carbon dioxide, and microbial biomass. We surveyed Tennessee fruit and vegetable growers to assess their use of PE mulch, BDM, or both; the differences in the characteristics of BDM users and nonusers; and their interest in using BDM. Our results indicate a large percentage of fruit and vegetable growers have used PE mulch compared with BDM. In general, BDM users tend to have more acres in fruit and vegetable production, have used dumping and burying as PE mulch disposal methods, and have spent more hours removing and disposing of PE mulch. Results indicate that even at prices higher than the current average market price for BDM, there is a percentage of Tennessee fruit and vegetable growers interested in using BDM.
Home gardeners’ concerns for the environment are expressed both in the ecofriendly gardening practices they use and in environmental attributes they prefer in the gardening products they purchase. This study uses data from a 2018 survey of 601 Tennessee outdoor home gardeners and a multiple indicators multiple causes (MIMIC) model to illustrate how outdoor home gardener demographics, expenditures, information use, and attitudes influence use of ecofriendly gardening practices and preferences for environmental attributes in home gardening supplies. Practices considered include planting pollinator plants, using rainwater collectors, composting, recycling gardening supplies packaging, using organic gardening methods, and use of soil testing. Gardening supply product attributes include decreased need for fertilizer, pesticides, and water; native plant species; organically produced products; and recyclable packaging. The most widely used practice is recycling gardening supplies packaging, and the least used is soil testing. Gardeners with a greater propensity to use the six gardening practices include male, college graduates, who spend relatively more of their income on gardening supplies, and consider themselves as being knowledgeable about environmental issues. The gardening supply product attribute most widely considered as important is decreased need for pesticides, and least widely considered as important are native species and organically produced. Gardeners more likely to prefer the six gardening supply product attributes include older gardeners, who seek other gardeners for information, and who perceived themselves as being knowledgeable about the environment. This same group likes to grow their own food and feels responsibility for protecting the environment for future generations.