Old Plastic Cups Make Stylish Planters in DIY System

A 'Naturwall' in the Designnobis Studio offices.

The tulip-shaped tea glass is a ubiquitous symbol of Turkish culture, but tea-drinkers on the go are increasingly using disposable plastic cups to fuel their many-times-daily habit. The corresponding jump in waste helped inspire a way to turn this trash into a healthy, green addition to any indoor environment.

Ankara-based designer Dr. Hakan Gürsu's "Naturwall" recycles disposable coffee and tea cups as planters in a modular system that can be hung on a wall or scaled up to create a room separator. Though the system is not yet for sale, various-sized Naturwalls are already enlivening Gürsu's Designnobis Studio offices.

'The Only Increasing Resource On Our Planet Is Waste'
While teaching at Middle East Technical University Design Studio in Ankara, Gürsu saw that nearly 100 disposable cups were being thrown away by a class of only 35 people, the designer told TreeHugger in an email. "The plastics-disposing rate is very high all over the world, and the only increasing resource on our planet is waste," he said. "So these projects [like Naturwall] utilize waste plastics and regain them, while offering functional and aesthetic designs."

Gürsu envisions the award-winning system of metal holders being made available in IKEA-like flatpacks that consumers can assemble themselves in a variety of sizes and configurations, adding their own used cups and the plants of their choice.

The 'PET-Tree' system.

The similar "PET-Tree" concept also uses recycled materials -- in this case PET plastic bottles -- as planters in a vertical system, this one tree-shaped and meant to be used outdoors. The framework, made in part of recycled plastic, allows for "maximum efficiency in a small area," with excess water from higher plants trickling down to lower ones and eventually being collected by more PET parts at the bottom. A membrane wrapped around the system, which is envisioned for use by both commercial producers and home gardeners, prevents water loss due to evaporation.

Both projects have received Green Dot Awards for sustainable design, as has Designnobis's "Decobricks," a water-resistant and heat-reducing type of outdoor brick made from disposable plastic tea or coffee cups or other pieces of plastic packaging.

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Old Plastic Cups Make Stylish Planters in DIY System
The 'Naturwall' system from Designnobis Studio turns used plastic tea and coffee cups into attractive room dividers that also help clean indoor air.

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