How the waste was won

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

  • My friend Becky sent me an email all the way from Seattle in Washington, USA, telling me I should check out an eco-friendly pop-up cafe right here in Melbourne. It struck me as completely mad that someone so far away who has never visited this city would know of a cool new place to check out, but in her honor I decided to do just that.

    The Greenhouse café, bar and restaurant is a temporary structure that has ‘popped up’ for the duration of the cities Food & Wine festival. It’s brainchild of a Dutch born artist and environmental designer, Joost Bakker (pronounced “Yoast”), who quite literally is taking the piss when it comes to his patrons.

    In carefully controlled and engineered ways that any Eau de Hippie wearing tree hugger would be delighted with, urine is collected from the pop-ups toilets and is then used to fertilise soybean and canola crops. Electricity in the building is then generated and fueled by pure, unrefined canola oil, so in some ways the pee is powering the pop-up!

    Bakker’s has designed the pop-up using sustainable and recycled, natural and non-toxic ideas in every aspect of the building, from food production and sourcing, through to building materials and furniture design.

    He has used conveyor belting for floors and irrigation pipes as chairs. Recycled bottles and jam jars are glasses and the cutlery is made from mulchable wood. There are also no rubbish bins as all waste is composted.

    I’ve visited the Greenhouse a few times since Becky told me about it. The sun has been the main attraction if I’m honest, but it’s fair to say that I’m also rather partial to their cider pressed from locally grown apples and pears.