Instructables

Biodegradable flower pots out of coffee grounds!

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Picture of Biodegradable flower pots out of coffee grounds!
Did you know coffee grounds still have a lot of good uses after they've been used?

In this instructable we'll make a flower pot that is completely biodegradable.
This means that you can put the plant with the pot in the ground when the plant has withered.
It is biodegradable because the base materials are water, flour and coffee grounds (a good compost material).

These pots are easy and fun to make and are ideal for kitchen herbs that can later on be planted in your garden.

Optional:
- Create your own pot shape (Step 4)
- Add your own logo (Step 5)


This instructable is part of a system called Coffee Cycle:
Bike pannier (front & rear)
Coffee grounds collector
Burlap sack for bicycle basket

Tell me more about the Coffee Cycle project!
 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
Materials for one flower pot:
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 cup of coffee grounds
- 1/2 cup of water
- Biodegradable flower pot
- Plastic container

Optional for a logo:
- Balsa wood
- Carving knife

Step 2: Mix the coffee & flour

Add one cup of flour and one cup of coffee grounds to a container.
Stir well until you become a light-brownish even mixture. 

Step 3: Add water

Picture of Add water
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Add water in small amounts to the mixture. Stir well each time. The end result should have a muddy texture.

Step 4: Coat the flower pot

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Coat the biodegradable pot with the mixture. Make sure you leave no gaps and the mixture is spread even all the way around.
Flatten the top (the pots bottom) so the pot wont be able to tip over.

TIP: Instead of using a biodegradable pot, you can also use an existing pot or create your own pot (create a mould out of clay or plaster).
You will need to remove the existing pot / mould after baking to maintain the biodegradable aspect.
ella8684 months ago
So if I don't want to use another biodegradable pot, then I just get a mold (another flower pot) and put the mixture inside, then let it dry, take it out and bake it?
jmnyquist5 months ago

It would be fantastic, if you could help me understand why the 40/40/20 (2:2:1) mixture of grounds, flour and water. Would you have suggestions on why a muddy texture rather than a clay like texture? After they've been baked, what's a safe limit on the volume of water before they return to mud? Do you have suggestions for the thickness of the mixture prior to baking?

I can definitely see doing this with a glazed pot as a mould to make separation easier. I, like others, would think the purpose was to not invest in manufactured biodegradable pots that, although not very attractive nor necessarily sustainably produced, serve their functions well. The idea of using one of those as the inner liner not to be removed seems slightly wasteful.

TVG3000 (author)  jmnyquist5 months ago

I wrote muddy texture because this sticks better to the biodegradable pot. You could also add less water and work with a more clay-like texture if the mould you are working with allows it.

If you give your plant a fair amount of water the pot will absorb it and will become flexible. You can let it dry afterwards and it will return to normal. But if you want to water your plants a lot we advise you to work with a biodegradable varnish.

We worked with a thickness of 6-8mm if I remember correctly.

The idea for these pots was to use them for plants (herbs) that you keep 1-2 weeks inside your house. Afterwards you can plant your herbs with the pot in your garden or throw them in your compost bin.

jmnyquist TVG30005 months ago
Thank you so much for your reply. I am hopeful that 1 to 1.25cm thickness of the finer textured mixture might produce a standalone pot that could take a seed through germination to about 6cm height for transplanting outside OR host an indoor kitchen herb garden for a few moons without breaking down.

Due to the time, materials, and energy involved, I must be adamant that it's more sound to spend a few coins more for the larger readily available biodegradable pots than to use this for making the smaller cheaper ones to become prettier or larger. That said, I consider part of your goal in posting this is minimizing environmental impact, and using a reusable mould in place of the biodegradable core should be paramount to that effect.

I believe this to be a wonderful concept and look forward to implementing. Thank you for sharing the ideas, I think what you're doing is great.
dskinner55 months ago
nice 'ible. need to make a solar oven so i can make a big pot (like 2-3ft across ) think it'll work for one that big? i know it's designed to be recyclable/biodegradable, but how long you think it will hold up? more than a season or 2?
also need to play with the consistency to see if i can turn it on a poets wheel... that'd be cool. recycled, biodegradable, "clay "
sorry, "Potter's" wheel...
TVG3000 (author)  dskinner55 months ago

Hi,
I think it would work on a Potter's wheel if you use an inside mould. I also think this mix wont stand on its own without an inner support before it is baked (it will collapse). You could indeed experiment with other doses of flour and grounds.

Maybe mix grounds with clay?


Please post your findings if you are experimenting with it, I'm interested in the results!

You could probably take a pyrex glass, like a measuring cup, and use it as a mold for baking. You wouldn't get many done at a time, but it could work.

sbrown95785 months ago

If you are already using a biodegradable pot to paste the mixture to, why would you want to paste to something already biodegradable or did I miss a step where you remove the inside pot to use as a mold again?

I thought the same thing.

(removed by author or community request)

Thank you for getting back to me. Although I still agree with Jmnyquist. It is wasteful and I didn't think it looked very nice with the mixture smeared on it. If you don't like the way the biodegradable pots looked you could have decorated them with paints or markers. They also come in biodegradable options and it isn't wasteful. But nice tute for a removable mold, now that I would do even if it didn't look nicer. Sorry

TVG3000 (author)  sbrown95785 months ago

Hi sbrown9578,

This is an example of a pot made without a biodegradable structure inside and with a mould. As you can see the outside texture is completly smooth.

The biodegradable structure on the inside is not a necessity, it was just used to create a more 'natural' effect instead of a smooth outside surface.

I hope this answers your question.
Thanks for your comment.

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When we explained to our teachers (it was a school projector 2 weeks ) why we preferred to use those pots in stead of mould they did agree with us. The restaurants we visited liked the texture,look. The pots won't last weeks, months so our design , exterior of the pot give the right feedback to costumers; That it won't last forever (that's way we preffered maken the pots like this instead of using a mould and having a cleaner exterior/ using an mould for the inside is very difficult to remove). The pot are also stiffer, beter water resisting using the biodegradable pots but maybe if we had more time for the project we could have found a better receipt... By using the coffee ground on the outside of the pot you can smell coffee, those flowerpot were given to the restaurants who participated to the coffee cycle by giving used coffee grounds. Another picture of a flowerpot in a mould

http://www.instructables.com/id/Coffee-Cycle-reusi...

You don't need to say sorry any remark is a good one :)

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a Plaster mould could also be used

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HollyHarken5 months ago

What a great Idea!! Just in time for seed starting. It must smell fantastic as it bakes. I'm going to have to try this. Thanks for posting!

TVG3000 (author)  HollyHarken5 months ago

Your kitchen will have a nice coffee smell while baking. The pots also have a nice coffee smell afterwards.

Thanks!

antioch5 months ago

Suggestions for biodegradable varnishes please!

Modge Podge...check on your arts and crafts for the biodegradable one, there are many versions of Modge Podge, but I am sure that they have one that is biodegradable; I bought it last year to seal some ceramics that I used to place food on.

electro185 months ago

Nice concept :D ! voted !

Edwardo Leon5 months ago

brilliant idea. i have access to used coffee ground from work. just to confirm that the coffee ground you used are after the brewing, right ? i love the idea of recycle things that we throw away.

TVG3000 (author)  Edwardo Leon5 months ago

Yes, these are used coffee grounds. This instructable is part of a bigger system called Coffee Cycle.

Coffee Cycle: Used coffee grounds are collected from cafés and restaurants in the neighbourhood with a modified bicycle. These grounds serve as a compost material to grow plants. The coffee grounds are also used to create the biodegradable flower pots which are then given back to the participating restaurants and cafes.

More info here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Coffee-Cycle-reusi...

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womentips5 months ago

WOW!Gonna try this

sickdog746 months ago

Love it! Great job!

Morpheus6 months ago
Great 'ible! I'm gonna try to bake mine in my solar cooker. Cheers.