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DIY Upside-Downy Tomato Planter

You’ve seen it on TV and you want one, right? Here’s how I made a DIY tomato planter (aka “topsy turvy” planter) out of PET trash and recycled objects around my house.

1–This bulk-size container is just the right size and has a nice wide-mouthed opening.

2–I used a hole-saw drill bit to make a opening in the bottom of the container. (even with the hole saw, this wasn’t easy…it was surprising thick!)

3–Next, measure equal thirds around the top opening and drill holes with a regular drill bit to attach a hanger.

4–This step is probably optional, but folks around my ‘burb wouldn’t appreciate trash hanging from my home, so I spray painted it to make it look nicer. (It might be functional too, as I don’t think direct sunlight would be good for the plant’s roots.)
UPDATE: This puzzling picture is not trick photography, just a bad crop job! The container is mounted on a stake in the ground to facilitate the painting. (Thanks, Wayne!)

5–Then, I attached an old chain hanger to the three holes in the rim; you could use wire, sturdy twine, even some old coat hangers if that’s what you have.

I don’t think we need yet another “how to” on how to get the plant in there; let’s just say that getting the plant through that hole reminded me of childbirth! Tip: wrap the foliage in a snug tube of newspaper to help work it through the bottom with a minimum of effort and damage. Or, just buy a smaller plant, which is what I wish I’d done!

The finished product: NOT seen on TV, but available for no easy payments of $0.

Grandeur in the Ocean Garbage Patch

This new awareness advert from Rise Above Plastics combines the ick factor of the ocean garbage patch with the majesty of a giant whale with predictably repugnant results. (From their website, we learn that “In some places of the Pacific Ocean, the amount of plastic suspended in the water outnumbers plankton six to one.”)


Two other items on the Rise Above Plastics website that make us say, “Hey, that’s neat!”…
Above, this rapidly escalating-counter shows, in our face and in real time, the runaway rubbish rate for plastic water bottles.
Below, the site alos includes this photo of plastic shopping bags masquerading as jellyfish, which reminds us of this “Dangerous Species” poster as well as the much-loved-by-me Ariston washer ad.

Your Boughs are Green in Plastic Glow

Of all the trees most lovely is this whimsical 2008 installation at the Tanglin Mall in Singapore decorated with artfully-crafted recycled plastic bottles. (I much prefer seeing them on a Christmas tree rather than a grocery shelf!)

Christmas Tree, Tanglin Mall, Singapore, 2008

Christmas Tree, Tanglin Mall, Singapore, 2008

Detail: Christmas Tree, Tanglin Mall, Singapore

Detail: Christmas Tree, Tanglin Mall, Singapore

Detail, Tree Topper

Detail, Tree Topper

Photos by chooyutshing on Flickr, thanks!

Ready to Rinse Away Your Plastic Waste?

Is this beginning of a new class of “something in the water?” The Harmless-Dissolve bag is a new approach to eco-packaging, a biodegradable, compostable water-dissolvable bag that almost disappears before your very eyes. (Shown here: the November, 2009 issue of CR Creative Review, which incorporated the new packaging.)

According to the harmlesspackaging.co.uk website, it is a…

…water soluble polymer which completely biodegrades in a composting environment, in a dishwasher or in a washing machine. It has no harmful residues and will biodegrade into naturally occuring substances.

Food for thought? No, more like food for our ravenous micro-friends:

Harmless-Dissolve is non-toxic and is degraded by micro-organisms, moulds and yeasts. These organisms can occur in both artificial environments, such as anaerobic digesters, activated sewage sludge and composts and natural environments such as aquatic systems and soil. The micro-organisms use Harmless-Dissolve as a food source by producing a variety of enzymes that are capable of reacting with it. In the end the bag becomes carbon dioxide, water and biomass.

Eco-tasty! (Except for the the term “biomass,” which strikes me as a little fuzzy and ill-defined.)

For envelopes, Harmless-Dissolve can be made in any size, printed full colour process using biodegradable inks and finished with a biodegradable peel and seal lip.

Which prompts a fantasy scenario of receiving my water bill in a water-soluble envelope! (The check is NOT in the mail!)

Surveying our Vast Plastic Landscape

Is today’s tidal wave of plastics rooted in the actions of centuries past? Ellen Driscoll’s installation FASTFORWARDFOSSIL: Part 2 (at Brooklyn, NY Smack Mellon/Dumbo Arts Center) is composed of 2600 discarded #2 plastic bottles she has painstakingly cut up and reformed as a ghostly, translucent landscape. The installation was conceived to provoke a critical look at the environmental and human damage inflicted by the oil and water industries in the last two centuries on regions as diverse as Nigeria and the United States.

According to Driscoll,

This installation is a continuation of a multi-year series which explores the dynamics of resource harvesting and consumption. This part of the series focuses on oil and water. Rising at 5:30 AM, I harvest #2 plastic bottles from the recycling bags put out for collection on the streets of Brooklyn. For one hour, one day at a time, I immerse myself in the tidal wave of plastic that engulfs us by collecting as many bottles as I can carry.

A nineteenth century trestle bridge plays host to an eighteenth century water-powered mill which spills a twenty-first century flood from its structure. The flow contains North American, Middle Eastern, and African landmasses buoyed by a sea of plastic water molecules.

Exhibition dates are September 26 – November 8, 2009 at Smack Mellon/Dumbo Arts Center: Art Under the Bridge Festival 2009. Photos by See-ming Lee 李思明 on Flickr

The New DIY: Dumps Inspire You

For this D.I.Y. project, don’t trek into Home Depot for your supplies, stay outside the store and look in their dumpster! (the “new” DIY = Dumps Inspire You!)

Katie Jackson (whatkatiedid.typepad.com) took photos of this excellent greenhouse constructed from recycled plastic bottles at the Eco Centre near Newcastle on Tyne in the UK.

Do you think this looks like child’s play? It is! Here’s an example built by and for the green-minded students of Bowmore Primary School, Isle of Islay, UK. (Photo by Ewan Macintosh on Flickr)

It wouldn’t surprise us if the Bowmore gang partnered with Scotland’s Sustainable Community Initiatives. They offer an interesting educational program to help schools and community groups build shelters, walls and greenhouses from recycled plastic bottles and tyres (that’s “tires,” Americans.)

Best of all, they have documented their expertise in a book you can purchase on their website. Plastics are Fantastic features full instructions, diagrams and photos on how to construct a your very own plastic bottle greenhouse or shelter wall. Or, try this 6-page pdf freebie from REAP, a North East Scotland sustainable development charity. D.I.Y.? D.I.M.!

Its High Time We Soaked Pot

Dry times. Our regionally-inappropriate potted plants are screaming for moisture and we’re darn tired of constantly dragging around that watering can and hose, splashing, spilling and transpirating all that good water.

From the Chicago Garden blog on chicagonow.com, a practical solution for container garden pop bottle drip irrigation. While I’ve seen the idea before, their method offers a few nice refinements and is a perfect use for plastic bottles and that ready water from your rain barrel!

Please, Give It A Second Thought

This double-taker was spotted at my local drugstore. Propel declares their product is now delivered with 33% less plastic. The proud declaration is displayed on a big, colorful hunk of…. plastic. (And, it’s the kind of plastic apparatus that’s been known to choke and maim animals.) Please, Propel, give this a second thought.

*Flippant footnote: Propel is NOT water. It is a vitamin enhanced water beverage. So there.

Beware the Ecological Inspector

Please recycle your recyclables in the recycled container? All these -cycles are leaving me tongue-tied! Nice shot from laraine on Flickr, who snapped this photo in a large park in Mexico City. Even better, she provides a translation for the delightful signage:

Conserve a healthy environment for
the future of your children.
Flatten and deposit plastic bottles,
soda bottles,
water bottles
energy drinks.
Separate orgainc and inorganic (this is a new law in the city)
MORE FORREST, LESS GARBAGE
be careful about the ecological inspector.
Super Recycler

Post-Festival Fate of the Metheun Tree

Sometimes I’d just stare and think…I wonder what’s become of her? Just a couple months ago we wrote about plastic bottle holiday trees, including this recyclarific example from the 2008 Methuen (Massachussetts) annual Festival of Trees. And now that the holidays are over, we sadly assumed she had been shredded to bits and cruelly bundled in a recycling center or worse, buried alive in a dank, smelly landfill.

So imagine my excitement to see her again while browsing Flickr, under the heading I WON THIS AT THE METHUEN FESTIVAL OF TREES.

This must be this the same tree, I think, but she sure looks different in the morning without her lights! So I send a message to the owner to inquire about her fate… “I’m curious… what happens to it now?”

The happy response: “We have decided to move it to our pool area and keep it as a conversation piece.”  She always loved being by the water, and now she’s a bathing beauty. And possibly headed for another adventure as a emergency rescue flotation device. Ah, life’s funny.