The sub-irrigated planter (SIP) to the left was made from a 3-liter diet Pepsi bottle (see prior post also see how to make them). While it is good news about a new and greener Pepsi bottle, it looks like the days of straight-sided 2 and 3-liter soda bottles are numbered. That is not good news for making soda bottle SIPs.
Coke has already gone curvy. As you can see, a Spider plant is growing in a curvy SIP but it is more difficult to make and not nearly as flexible in design options. From the picture of the new contoured Pepsi bottle above it looks like the same thing will be true for Pepsi SIPs.
Contouring adds strength and perhaps some visual appeal but it is not so green. It may seem a utopian idea but there is real value in making soda bottles straight-sided. Are you thinking Don Quixote rides again?
Recycling is good but upcycling or repurposing is even better. Soda bottle SIPs are an unintended secondary product of significant value to society.
Having grown plants in them for many years, I believe it could be justified to make them as a primary product. I’ve learned more about growing plants and plant science from soda bottle SIPs than any other information source.
Clear soda bottle SIPs should be helping to grow plants inside every school in the world. They would quickly demonstrate how easy it is to grow plants using sub-irrigation as compared to tricky-to-learn drench and drain watering in traditional pots with drain holes.
Clear SIPs teach recycling, water conservation, some basic plant science as well as an introduction to edible plant growing. What could be more important than learning some simple science along with self-sufficiency about feeding oneself? Learning how to use sub-irrigation on a personal level is a survival skill.
So, my message is to save all the straight sided soda bottles you can find and turn them into SIPs. What a great recycling project this would be for every school in America.
Know that growing edible plants with sub-irrigation is scalable from windowsills to backyards and school yards, to rooftops and balconies to commercial farms. It is not well known by the public that sub-irrigation is widely used in greenhouse growing around the world. It is even employed in field farming in some parts of the U.S.
Why then is it not taught in the public school system? Why are consumer horticulture institutions such as urban botanic gardens not teaching it? Many millions of children who are destined for lives of obesity or hunger deserve better.
Using plant-based, fully renewable resources, the company plans to manufacture a beverage container with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.
For years, scientists and inventors have offered up futuristic alternatives to the resource-intensive plastic packaging clogging up our landfills and recycling bins. And for just as many years, practical environmentalists have said that these designs are all well and good, but until the day they're used in mainstream commercial production, their impact will be minuscule.
It appears that day may not be as far away as we thought.
PepsiCo recently announced it has developed the world's first PET plastic bottle made entirely from plant-based fully renewable resources. The innovative packaging is made from bio-based raw materials, including switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. In the future, the company expects to broaden the renewable sources used to create the "green" bottle to include orange peels, potato peels, oat hulls and other agricultural byproducts from its foods business.
Combining biological and chemical processes, PepsiCo has identified methods to create a molecular structure that is identical to petroleum-based PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which results in a bottle that looks, feels and protects its product identically to existing PET beverage containers, but without all the nasty side-effects.
Here are some fun facts that put the environmental impacts of traditional plastic bottle production in perspective:
* Plastic bottles take 700 years to begin composting
* 90% of the cost of a bottled beverage is due to the bottle itself
* 80% of plastic bottles are not recycled
* 38 million plastic bottles go to the dump per year in America from bottled water alone (not including soda)
* 24 million gallons of oil are needed to produce a billion plastic bottles
* 75% of all soda consumed in the United States is purchased in bottle (or can)
* Bottled water is the second most popular beverage in the United States
PepsiCo will pilot production of the new bottle in 2012. Upon successful completion of the pilot, the company intends to move directly to full-scale commercialization.
Although we still have issues with the un-healthiness of many PepsiCo products, we applaud this move toward packaging that has a less severe impact on the planet. The processed-food giant has made many strides to reduce the post-use carbon footprint of their products recently, including compostable SunChips bags and the Naked Juice 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic reNEWabottle.