UniHall Bottle Reform Project

09 June 2017

As environmental advocates of UniHall, the team aimed to do their part in reducing waste produced in Australia.

Pot plants in bottles

On Thursday 1 June, University Hall (UniHall) residents and Environmental Advocates Melissa Chua and Su Ching organised their very own Wine & Beer Bottle Reform Workshop, held in the Arts Room. Twenty residents turned up with their freshly washed bottles, ready to give them a second chance.

The environmental advocates were deeply upset at the fact that Australia produces more than 18 million tons of waste every year. Residential Advisor (RA) Sean Matjeraie suggested they target glass bottles as of some our residents are (safe and responsible) consumers of alcohol. Our residents usually chuck the glass bottles into the recycling bin or store them in their cupboards without knowing what to do with them.

Melissa and Su Ching initially conjured up an idea to cut and transform the bottles into drinking cups, but rejected as they were worried the edges would be too sharp. After some brainstorming, they decided to give the glass bottles a second chance by turning them into pots for herbs. They gave a safety briefing and demonstration to residents at the beginning of the session. They soaked a string in acetone and wrapped it around the bottle, then lit the coiled string on fire and used the heat to make a clean cut around the bottle. A few seconds before the fire was extinguished, they dropped the bottle vertically into a bucket of ice water. Ideally, the bottle should have a clean cut around the string.

The top of the bottle was inverted and inserted into the bottom portion. Residents filled the top portion with soil, with a net at the bottleneck to prevent soil from falling into the bottom. A string dangled through a hole in the net into the bottom and residents were instructed to fill two-thirds of the bottom with water.

The girls explained that the plant did not have to be watered daily; the water at the base of the bottle would be absorbed by the plant through transpiration. Residents were then allowed to choose from a variety of herbs – apple and chamomile, lavender, chocolate mint, eucalyptus and many more – to plant in their bottles.

According to the two girls, UniHall could be implementing more environmentally friendly initiatives. They are hoping to plan a second event together, called ‘Karang Guni’ – a modern form of a rag-and-bone person who collects unwanted household items that is common in Singapore and Malaysia.

“We would like to encourage leaving or graduating residents to donate their pre-loved household items like hangers and laundry baskets. These items will be made available to new incoming residents next semester. It would be useful for many exchanges coming in next semester who are here for a short period of time but still require these items. This helps reduce waste generated at the end of the semester plus makes new residents feel more welcomed and reduces items they may need to purchase and eventually throw away when they leave,” Melissa explains.

Melissa and Su Ching hope to inspire other residents to go green with a Native American saying that goes, ‘When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.’

Written by University Hall Reporter, Hazel Tan

Workshop participants