Chances are your waste bin is full of empty plastic bottles that may or may not actually end up getting recycled. Reducing our plastic consumption and reusing what we have is crucial in the global fight against pollution, and a sustainable new hydroponic growing system called Bottle Farm offers a great way to do exactly that.
Launched on Kickstarter in June, Bottle Farm is a simple, affordable kit that can help you transform any old plastic bottle into an indoor farm producing edible plants like herbs and salad greens. It requires no electricity and is fully self-watering, so it’s highly efficient and a great option for people who aren’t the most attentive gardeners.
This mini farm relies mainly on hydroponic technology, requiring the user to grow plants in water instead of soil. It’s designed to simply sit in your window though, so you don’t have to set up any grow lights or waste electricity to help it thrive. It comes with two bottle stands, two “suction pads” to stick it to a window, four “grow baskets” you insert into the sidewall of a plastic bottle, and eight “grow pods” made of recycled coconut husk.
To get started, you simply cut slots in the bottle using a provided template, insert the grow baskets, and drop in the grow pods, which expand when they come into contact with water. The kit provides basil, chard, chives, coriander, parsley, lettuce, tomato, rocket, and chili seeds, along with packets of “plant fuel” fertilizer, but you can always swap in other seeds better tailored to your preferences.
The kit can either be placed in a windowsill, if there’s enough room, or suction-cupped to the glass. Little suction cup “grow clips” let you support bigger plants like tomatoes as they grow. Most of the components are made of 95-percent recycled plastic, and to offset those materials that aren’t, the company partnered with Carbonfund.org.
They explain that “one year ago, we noticed a problem. The food we were buying was being wrapped in single-use plastic and flown across the world to get to us. That has a large environmental impact. But we live in London, so how were we meant to find space to grow our own food? Then we had an idea. What if you could grow food using an everyday object, which was otherwise going to be thrown away, in space you can’t use for anything else? We created Bottle Farm.”
“We are a small team of physicists and designers with experience developing large-scale home hydroponics systems. We’ve spent this past year designing every part of Bottle Farm with care and attention, down to the minute details. We used a beautifully simple design process. Iteration. We took each part needed to create a Bottle Farm, worked out what it needed to do, then designed Version 1 and made the first prototype. Then we would test it until it broke. From this we learnt what worked and what didn’t. Then we would re-design and repeat. That’s how we’ve packed so many features and so much functionality into this little box.”
Kits are available for pre-order on Kickstarter now for as little as £20 (about $26 USD), but larger pledges will net you extras like expanded seed varieties and additional grow clips.