Is Hydroponics Without Plastic Possible?

Thomas Angas by Thomas Angas | Last Updated: January 21, 2021

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I was browsing Reddit recently and an interesting question was posted up on there, is hydroponics without plastic possible?

So today that’s what we’re going to be looking at – is hydroponics without plastic possible and then we’ll give you a few alternatives.

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Is Hydroponics Without Plastic Possible?

Let’s get straight to the point, it’s possible to create a fully working hydroponics system without any plastic usage. If you’ve read our previous post on the history of hydroponics, you’ll know that both hydroponics and aquaponics actually pre-date the invention of plastic by a thousand years!

While some of the modern active hydroponic systems do require some plastic to be used (normally pumps, hose lines or fittings), a couple of the passive systems are possible to build without plastic.

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What Are The Options

As a proof of concept, the simplest setup would be something like a mason jar aquaponics system for this to work required zero plastic just glass which is recyclable.

The other option to consider would be something like the wick system that is a passive system hydroponic system that doesn’t require a pump, air stones or PVC tubing to get it up and running.

Bamboo As A Possible Solution

One possible alternative to plastic is to use bamboo.

Inspired by bamboo scaffolding used to build throughout Asia, Amaury Gallon created a vertical garden entirely made out of bamboo.

The plants are irrigated several times a day with each bamboo cane sealed with gravel and a layer of hydrophilic felt. Excess water is collected in containers at the base of the structure and fish within the base create nutrients for the plants.

So far, the garden has successfully grown zucchini, melon, squash, pickle, tomato, strawberry as well as lemon balm, mint, chives and basil.

Downsides of Bamboo

While this might sound like an ideal solution, it does come with a number of downsides.

The main issue is that when using high nutrient water with biodegradable materials the material degrades at a much higher rate meaning you’ll need to constantly keep an eye on to make sure holes don’t suddenly appear.

While there are certainly other options like the metals used in your household pipes, the big downside here is that they come at a significant cost.

The Bottom Line

So there you have it, while it’s certainly possible to build your own system with natural parts which technically makes hydroponics without plastic possible, if you’re planning on creating an active hydroponic system then you’ll probably need to use some plastic.

Thomas Angas, the founder of Authority Gardening lives with his wife and two darling pups. He spends his free time writing, hiking and learning how to become a better gardener. He launched Authority Gardening in 2017 to help people all over the world their gardens grow.