Uncapped creativity

• Toby (11) and Maddie (9) figured out how to make succulent pots out of those hard-to-recycle bottle caps. Photo by David Bell.

A YOUNG brother and sister business duo have found a way to turn hard-to-recycle bottle lids into a sustainable craft business.

Morley kids Toby, 11, and Maddie, 9, have spent months crafting more than a hundred artistic pots for small succulent plants and have now started selling them.

“We got the idea from our nannie,” Maddie says, referring to their environmentally-minded grandmother who taught them the technique.

“We’re doing it to save the environment,” Maddie explains.

Both have inherited a love for the environment in general, and have their favourite animals they want to protect. 

“Turtles,” Maddie says.

“Dugongs!” for Toby, a recent favourite that he hopes to see in person on an upcoming family trip to Shark Bay.

Bottle caps are particularly tricky to recycle, and they’re one of the most common plastic items to end up in rivers, oceans, and on beaches. 

Toby explains to us that tiny bits of plastic like bottle caps can’t go in your normal recycling bin because the sorting machines can’t handle them: “Anything smaller than your elbow falls through the teeth of the gears.”

So Toby and Maddie have been asking friends and family for their plastic lids: “Thousands” of them so far, mum Chelsea Shaw says. 

The first step is giving them a thorough wash until they’re “cleaner than clean” according to nannie’s instructions.

Then they take them to sustainability charity REmida where a specialised bit of machinery grinds them up into tiny flakes.

“Then we get the sandwich press,” Toby says, and layer the flakes in. They colour coordinate, mixing in blue milk lids, green hilo lids, and a scattering of red coke lids for artistic effect. 


Then with a cup as a mould the flakes are warmed up until they meld together. For each pot “it’s probably a 13-minute round process,” Toby says. “I timed it once.” 

While the collecting, processing, and crafting process has been going on, Toby and Maddie have also been growing succulents to transplant into the finished creations. 

Recently they contacted Bayswater Twilight Markets to see if they might be able to get a stall there, and the organisers sponsored them to set up a spot this week.

They’ve branded their project “Sustainable Succulent Creations” and are selling their pots for $6 each or two for $10 – and splitting the proceeds with Bayswater’s Enviro House. 

They’ll be at the markets at Bert Wright Park this Friday May 12 from 5pm to 8.30pm.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s