Axton Burton is a tropical plant enthusiast, but in their rainy home state of Washington, keeping warm weather-loving plants alive is no easy feat. Seeking out a greenhouse for their leafy friends and finding limited affordable options, Axton decided to build their own, but with a sustainable twist─the entire greenhouse is made from recycled glass jars.
An impressive mosaic-like structure, the greenhouse is made up of 4,516 glass jars, all donated from the community surrounding Axton’s home of Redmond, Washington. Large jars, like empty jam and pasta sauce containers, make up the bulk of the greenhouse, with smaller nail polish bottles filling the gaps in between. Colorful marbles block the tiniest spaces in the walls, adding a pop of color to the collection of circular glass.
Axton cleans the jars and removes their labels before gluing them into the walls. Construction on the greenhouse started in January 2020, and Axton says “the only thing left is to plug in moss between the spaces between the jars that the nail polish bottles don’t fit in.” This plant material will help insulate the greenhouse.
The recycled jars make the structure sustainable, but they aren’t the only green aspect of this greenhouse. A rain catcher made from an old wine barrel captures the region’s frequent precipitation. Pumps and hoses then carry the rainwater into the greenhouse where it keeps the interior humid with daily misting.
Although Axton had some help with the more technical construction elements, they say that most of the building process was trial and error. Some of the measurements had to be redone and they hit a bump in the road when it came to accounting for the slight slant in the driveway which the greenhouse sits on, but now, Axton is welcoming visitors to marvel at the nearly complete greenhouse. Many of the visitors are people who donated jars for the construction. Four people have also reached out to Axton seeking to replicate the innovative design.
As a busy independent business owner and transgender healthcare advocate, Axton isn’t taking on any greenhouse commissions at the moment, but for anyone looking to take on a complex creative endeavor like theirs, Axton has a clear message: “Go for it. It’s possible; you can do it.”