At Ecotribo we have been making recycled eco-friendly plant pots for a number of years. We started small and are growing just like our favourite plants. We all know that growth these days can sometimes not be a good thing when talking about all things sustainable. We believe our business is different and our growth has meant we are cleaning more ocean plastics from our coast with every eco plant pot we sell, and thats a good thing!
When we started making our little "ocean Tide' plant pots in about 2018 we wanted to make something from the ocean plastic waste we were finding on our beaches. We didn't have expensive injection moulding machinery and money for the steel moulds but we didn't let that stop us from making our first eco-friendly plant pots from coffee waste we found in our local cafe. We kept on experimenting with different materials like seaweed, egg shells and recycled ocean plastics. If you want to feel like you are doing something for the planet you have to start somewhere we say! So today we going to give you a quick lesson on how you can start making your own eco-friendly recycled plant pots!
We are now making our recycled ocean plastic plant pots with big expensive tool and machinery but are presuming you are starting small so here are a few ways you can start.
Make an eco-friendly plant pots with a small affordable moulds
The way we started was buy buying a simple silicon mould from Etsy They are relatively cheap compared to our steel plant pot mould that costs thousands of pounds! We started with these moulds to prove the concept of using eco-materials and making something! There are other ways we have seen using cornstarch to make a simple and cheap mould. It was such a joy to see our ideas come to life and demonstrate a sustainable business in practice so now you can too! We then got fancy and started designing our own bespoke designs and mould to create something that was truly unique.
Eco materials for your recycled plant pot
The next thing to consider is what eco materials you want to make your eco plant pot from? I tried all sorts of materials at first and it was fun to play and experiment. Sustainable materials is a huge subject that I could go on about for years but a good place to check out is the Materials Library and Materiom who have a massive resource of biomaterial recipes. They are growing a regenerative materials database and are doing some exciting work in the field of bio-materials. I spent many days and weeks playing with all the recipes and mixing and matching to find what worked for me.
The tricky thing is finding a eco binder. bio-resins are resins that are derived from biological sources such as vegetable oils instead of petrochemicals. A bio-resin is a polymer or plastic made from new carbon resources, which is obtained from renewable and sustainable agricultural crops, as well as residual agricultural waste. Often they are not 100% bio so check them out.
My first ocean plastic plant pots 'Ocean Tide' were made from recycled ghost nets I found on my beach mixed with a bio-resin. It was my first effort, it wasn't perfect but it was the start of my journey to sustainability. I then started making all sorts of shapes and forms from the waste I found on my local beach. I made silicon moulds and tried different ideas. My Ocean Plastic Shaka hands were made in the same manner where I made sculptures of my hand and then made a silicon mould from them. You can also use cornstarch to make moulds which is even cheaper so have a look at these resources.
So if you have an idea mould it from clay, 3d print it or you can even use lego bricks to create a shape! Once you have your unique shape you can make a mould from it so you can make multiples.
3D printing your eco plant pot or eco product
I experimented with 3d printing as another way to make recycled plant pots and products. This is definitely a more expensive and complicated way to do things which is why I shared the moulds method first.
Depending on your tech skills this is an exciting way to make eco plant pots but I found the process very time intensive as 3d printers take a long time to print anything. The machines themselves can also be relatively expensive if you are starting out.
There is some great simple software around these days to make eco plant pots and other shapes such as Shapr and TinkerCad. Its an exciting world to play in. There are also some amazing eco filaments that you can then use to make your recycled plant pots. Some of my favourites are fishy filaments who use recycled fishing nets. Check out my first attempts at a 3d printed ocean plastic plant pot I made in 2019 using fishy filaments material. I then tried all sorts of products made from this recycled fishing net material. This is such a beautiful material and I loved the colour! The shapes and types of things you can make are only limited by your imagination so go play.
I hope that helps give you some ideas of how to make your first recycled plant pot and or ocean plastic plant pot. We have spent many years experimenting and playing and slowly moved along the path to our Plasticpreneur injection moulding machine. We use lost and abandoned fishing nets and to make our plant pots now.You can see a video of the injection mould process here. We use a steel mould, we shred the nets and then heat the material up to about 260 degrees and then inject it into the moulds.
They are made from 100% recycled plastics that are 100% recycled and recyclable! Its taken us a long time to get to this point and we are excited to be launching our new Sea Change plant pot soon. This new design will be made in our factory in Bristol. Sustainability is a journey. We are not perfect but we try to do all we can to keep learning and finding solutions. Wishing you all the best on your sustainability journey. I'm excited to see where your path leads! Please tag @ecotribolife on instagram and show us your eco-friendly plant pots.