By Nikki Harper, Wake Up World
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last several years (unlikely, if you’re a Wake Up World reader) you’ll be aware of the plastic crisis faced by the planet. You’ll also know that excessive urbanisation means that many people live in concrete jungles, distanced from the life-affirming energy of plants.
What if there were a really cool solution to both of these problems, which put discarded plastic to a good use and enriched lives at the same time? Step forward vertical gardening with recycled plastic bottles – a brilliant idea which can be adapted to suit almost any household in any environment.
Vertical gardening isn’t new, but an example from India show how this inventive technique is truly changing lives.
The Mehra family from Amritsar were locally hot news (or actually rather cool news, as it turns out) last June when they showed off the vertical garden they had created at their home. Gitanjali Mehra, an interior designer, and her husband Rohit, a tax commissioner, used over 175,000 plastic bottles to create the garden, fixing the bottles to the exterior walls of their home and filling them with over 33 varieties of plants. The plants are irrigated using a simple drip system – and incredibly, this has lowered the internal temperature of their home by nearly a cool five degrees Celsius.
Elsewhere in Ludhiana, where Rohit works, the idea caught on quickly. Many local schools now boast lush, green, vertical gardens on their walls, as does Punjab Agriculture University, Gurdwara Dukh and even Ludhiana railway station, the first station in India to adopt this initiative. The railway authorities note that the plants not only cool the station, but also help to absorb the noise, and seem to have a calming and anti-littering effect on travellers, with incidents of littering and gutka and paan masala spitting significantly reducing. The vertical gardens are also important in reducing air pollution. Rohit has since gone on to mastermind more than 150 vertical gardening projects, changing lives across the region.