written by Jason Knight

Ecohackerfarm is big on recycling and reusing materials that other people have deemed as useless rubbish and tossed out into the garbage. Almost everything we buy these days, whether a car, computer, stereo, hairdryer, household appliances, electronic goods (essentially anything manufactured) is built according the rules of planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence. Without going into depth, the accepted definition according to the Oxford dictionary is;

"A policy of producing consumer goods that rapidly become obsolete and so require replacing, achieved by frequent changes in design, termination of the supply of spare parts, and the use of non-durable materials."

So companies build "things" to fail after a certain point in time so that you have to go out and buy a new one, or it is even if it doesn't fail, it will be outdated by a newer better model. This means, people throw away all sorts of things once these items fail. Most of these go to a rubbish tip, some into a dumpster, others end up outside homes on the side of the road to be collected by the rubbish collection services, but a few items are salvaged and repaired or re-designated and used in a variety of creative ways. Ecohackerfarm relishes the opportunity presented by planned obsolescence.

Keeping this in mind, another project on my assigned list was to convert a thrown away stereo speaker box into a planter box. This project had already been started by a previous volunteer with a small chili tree planted inside the speaker but it had not been completed. Aimee wanted the rest of the speaker planted with pepper seeds so that the space where the speakers had been inserted into the box would be fully utilized.

Initially I wanted to use plastic containers and place them inside the empty space, resting on spongy foam padding that had already been placed there. I tried a few different container sizes from the kitchen but none of them really fit properly. Also, the depth of the containers was too shallow, so even if they were to fit somehow, after the seeds sprouted and grew, the plant would be limited by the shallow depth of the soil in the container.

After mulling over my options I decided to forgo the plastic containers and the padding and just fill the space with soil. First thing was to remove the foam padding, then line the inside with some cut up plastic bags to provide a semi-water proof base. I then lined the inside with straw as it will help to retain the moisture as well as break down over time and provide some additional nutrients to the plants. After adding the straw, I took as much soil as I could from the compost and filled the space inside, topping it off with some potting mix.

Lastly, the all important seeds were planted inside. I managed 8 seeds in the large section and 4 in the smaller one. Hopefully they will germinate and grow into lovely pepper plants that can one day provide fruit for a tasty meal.

As for planned obsolescence, well, it can get bent...long live recycling!