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There is so much we can do with all the rubbish we throw away. With this project we turned an old PET plastic Coke bottle which would have otherwise ended up in the trash and eventually on a landfill site into a terrarium to start a water wise vegetable garden.
Recycling uses a lot of energy, as the item first needs to be broken down, reprocessed and remade into something new. Upcycling is much better for the environment as no new processes are involved, so before you throw away an item, first stop to think how you can reuse or upcycle it.
The terrarium reduces the amount of water your growing plants use, and plants can easily be grown on balconies or window sills if you do not have a garden. We are using ours to start a water wise herb & vegetable garden.
The water in the recycled Coke bottle terrarium will evaporate, condense on the sides of the bottle and then drip down as rain. This is a great way to teach children not only about the need to use less and to upcycle, but also as a science project to learn about the earth, weather patterns and rain.
Coke bottles specifically are great for many crafts, as the shape of the bottle is ideal to make a number of items, such as Coke bottle gift boxes, hanging mobiles & terrariums.
Remove the label from the Coke bottle and place it to one side.
Using your craft knife, make a slit just below the ridge near the top of the bottle, and then another slit just above the ridge about halfway down the Coke bottle.
Insert your scissors into the top slit, and cut along the ridge to remove the top of the bottle.
Now insert your scissors into the other slit, and cut the base off the Coke bottle
Your Coke bottle should now be in three pieces.
Keep the top and bottom sections of your Coke bottle on your work surface. Save the middle section with the Coke label and store these somewhere, we will waste nothing and use these for another upcycling project in the future.
Add a handful of stones to the bottom of the Coke bottle. This isn't really necessary, but it does help with drainage, ensuring that the roots of your plant aren't flooded.
Now add sand to the Coke bottle, covering the stones. You need enough soil for the the roots to have space to grow, but don't fill the bottle with too much soil, otherwise your plant won't have enough space to grow. Just above the line where the Coke bottle begins to taper is ideal.
Now add a little water. The soil needs to be damp, but not soggy. If you used stones at the base of your bottle, this will also help protect from over watering.
Now place 2 - 3 seeds in your terrarium. Beans usually start growing very quickly, so they are ideal to use for children as they should see the sprouts emerge after just a few days, but you could plant something else or even seeds for flowers if you like.
Use a finger to push the seeds or beans about 1cm into the soil, and then make sure the top of each seed is covered.
Push one end of the top section of the recycled Coke bottle into the base, and then gently rotate to get the entire top section into the base.
If you are struggling to get the top into the base or are using a plastic bottle that is not a Coke bottle, use a scissors to cut three vertical 1cm slits around the bottle.
With the slits, it should now be quite easy to squeeze the top section into the base of your Coke bottle to make a terrarium.
Place your upcycled Coke bottle terrarium in a warm sunny spot and wait a few days for the plants to emerge from the soil. Because the Coke bottle terrarium is sealed you should never have to water the plants - the water will constantly evaporate, condense on the sides of the bottle and drip down to water the plant - the ideal way to start your vegetable garden, and a great science experiment for children.
When the plant grows too big for the container, you can either plant it in the garden, or if you don't have a garden, simply remove the top of the terrairium to allow the plant to grow. Once the top has been removed from the upcycled terrarium the water will evaporate into the atmosphere and you will need to water the plant regularly.