Clean, Green Construction – Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

Clean, Green Construction – Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

19th December 2017

If you’re a regular reader of the Safety Fabrications blog, then you’re sure to know that we’re always on the lookout for new developments within the construction industry.  In the past we’ve covered new technology in materials (particularly in bricks and concrete) and construction methods (innovative methods such as inflation and modular building).  In recent years we’ve all become aware of the need for sustainability when it comes to building – climate change seems to be upon us already and the sooner we adopt greener and more sustainable practices in all areas of life, the better it will be for this beautiful planet we live on.  Very often, new technology and methodology is the result for this need to be green.  We’ve published a couple of posts in recent months on the increasing use of bottles in building, both as a way of adding interest and beauty and in order to keep both glass and plastic bottles out of landfill.

Constructing houses out of discarded plastic bottles (along with other materials, of course) is a great use for them.  We’ve all seen the photos on social media in recent months depicting the vast amounts of plastics in our oceans and plastic really is such a handy material that it shouldn’t be a single-use packaging product.  Today we’re going to take a look at another use for plastic bottles when it comes to construction – building greenhouses.

When you think about it, it really makes sense to use plastic for greenhouses – it’s far more practical than glass.  How many greenhouse owners in the past have heard the tinkle of breaking glass as a ball is kicked over the fence?  Repairing greenhouse panes when they smash is time=consuming and expensive, so using plastic has to be preferable.  However, plastic/acrylic sheeting for greenhouses is pretty expensive and empty plastic bottles cost nothing and offer the following advantages:

·         Raises the temperature by about 10°C

·         Easy to repair – just find a new bottle to replace any that break (on the odd occasion they break)

·         Self-watering – because there are gaps where the bottles lie side by side, rain can penetrate which is a huge time-saver.  Rainwater is much better for watering plants than is tap water.

·         Safer – broken glass is a real danger, particularly to children and pets

To build a greenhouse measuring 8ft by 6ft takes about 1,400 empty 2 litre bottles which is a pretty tall order.  The best way of sourcing these bottles would be to get your friends and family involved, ask neighbours, etc.  Most people are only too glad to get rid of their plastic bottles without having to take a trip to the recycling centre. 

Plastic bottles are washed and have the labels removed and the bottoms cut off and they are then threaded onto a pole or stick.  Bamboo canes are an option, rebar, lengths of dowelling or even sturdy wire.  The greenhouse frame can be built from wood and the bottle walls added.  There’s a video below showing one method of constructing a plastic bottle greenhouse.  However, the possibilities are almost endless – bottles can be used to create a polytunnel or even a little plastic mini greenhouse.