Container Gardening – SNAP Hydroponics From The Philippines

SNAP Hydroponics

SNAP Hydroponics is something that has been developed in the Philippines for sustainable living and livelihood. What makes it a little unique compared to most hydroponics setups is that it doesn’t need any electricity which is a huge difference in money cost for production. Obviously the Philippines climate is a country receiving 12 hours of sunshine as well as constant heat which helps. But the SNAP solution which is mixed with water is a cheap solution for plant production that is initially designed for leafy plants. Maybe this is the first step towards developing different solutions for different types of plant to get maximum growth while still being organic. But for me living out in the Philippines with these lightweight boxes how many would you fit on a shipping container home roof? The boxes themselves come from discarded fruit boxes normally carrying grapes which means your recycling a product that is normally scrapped. How to make a SNAP hydroponics setup from a fruit box can be found here.

The Future Of Shipping Container Architecture

shipping container

One of the main issues that are cropping up with shipping container architecture is things are often pushed onto recycling being the green solution, then you get greens telling us how toxic the paints are and how transportation is a waste of energy.

The important thing is though if its available and usable its green. If it isn’t and in many cases they aren’t then we are looking at modular construction for buildings which is a more viable method for many uses. I originally worked on this type of system in the late 90s for use in classrooms and clinic construction in the UK as a temporary solution.

Temporary often means a decade as they are generally put into place as an immediate solution while discussions, planning and funding are found for building the main buildings that will replace them. During this time though many of these units would return after years of being in the field and be revamped before sending back out. Which does show the fact they were extremely reliable and resilient to weather. Add to that having slot walling meant that upon return walls would be rejigged to suit the new layout for the building they were becoming. Very little wastage as all windows and doors ended up back in other buildings if not used.

The fact is the shipping container idea developed this new concept which is now fairly old in use but still has a growing market which does appear China is gearing towards the housing industry with.

I can see this being the future of shipping container homes as the dimensions are still in place although the walling systems have been completely redesigned.

Container House A Real Solution Or Just A Eco Dream?

As you can see in this blog we collate container house designs and projects all the time but is it just a modern fad? In the UK doing your bit for recycling people will talk about the fact they bought a hard wearing reusable bag and no longer use plastic ones at the supermarket. But to me its simply a token gesture and it shows more on the fact the bags are made to look trendy over usage, and where did the bags come from in the first place they weren’t made in the UK!

At the same point people argue about toxic paints and moving the containers to their final destination as someone’s container house. But these eco greens never talk about the cost of doing it in traditional ways or practical solutions. Why am I looking at building a container house? well its not to do with the environment its down to the fact its affordable and I can do all the work myself which in real terms for the UK labour costs 40% of the build cost. Reduce the material cost as well drastically how much are we talking to build a shipping container home in the UK?

In reality people take pride in ownership of a home and isn’t more “eco friendly” to actually be building homes that are sustainable and affordable than arguing about how much toxic paint was used in the original painting? Damage was already done and its unlikely most of the paints people are talking about actually do any harm unless you start messing with them too much.

A container house is something I can see governments not being happy with as its borderline temporary accommodation which also means there must be reduced tax implications on the land that it sits. But for most people its the achievement of being able to own a home that takes priority and a container house can offer that.

Shipping container home concrete pillar supports using old barrels

Shipping container concrete base supports

Most of you are aware of the business we are looking to develop here in the Philippines as regards shipping containers and converting them into households. This one here is a prime example of “recycling” as its even taken the blue plastic drums which you find all over the place in the Philippines often used for storing water but in this instance they are filled with concrete and metal re-bars to create the base pillars for the shipping container home. Very simple and affective method as it allows you to level up the base without too much hassles.

Shipping Container Homes The Moral Choice

For me the Shipping Container Home is not only likely to become the home of tomorrow but the moral choice of today. There are many reasons behind my thinking although recycling is part of the reasoning more importantly is abandoning consumerism as this isn’t recycling its stopping things being used and wasted in the first place.

Shipping container homes generally are smaller and designed round specific needs to peoples requirements rather than the cluttered lives that many people live. I remember as a child a teacher mentioning that he nailed his loft hatch shut and the reasoning behind that is if something goes up into the loft its very likely you don’t need it and more importantly it will never come down again. Different teacher had similar thoughts about a bag in the fact you might as well have a small bag that is easy to carry as carrying a big bag you carry a lot of things you don’t use. Both thoughts have method in the madness as I look at many homes and I see under utilized space all over the place. But also just as important disregarded items which is why you see things like “send in your old mobile phones for charity” as they know people shove last years phone in drawers never to use again after they got an upgrade. But for me I think why do I need an upgrade? can’t I have a downgrade in my costs? Last years phone is designed for many years of use why would I want to shove it in a drawer just for the sake of getting a new shiny toy?

I think this is part of the consumerism gone mad that has leaked into society that shipping container homes can improve how people see the world for what it is. If there is a TV company out there maybe its a reality show you can work on and take some major consumers away from all the gadgets and give them a more minimalistic lifestyle but monitoring not only the impact it has on productivity and general wellbeing but also financial gain from not wasting money on things they never needed. Although don’t see advertisement companies too keen on this idea.

The discussion came up the other day with a friend of ours heading back to the UK as we live in a similar way where all our possessions can quite literally fit into 2 bags ready to move anywhere in the world. Neither of us are hippy, neither of us are poor in fact when you balance it up we are probably a lot more wealthy than the majority of people as we abandoned everything that was associated with fixing a location or more to do with increasing our burden. We rent rooms when we are working in a location and long term we don’t live in the UK we just work there. Someone’s going to convert my air miles here to do with my carbon footprint I am sure at the same time take into account that my energy consumption in the Philippines is well below consumer UK not only in home wastage but the fact my commuting is heavily reduced.

But getting back on track it was the abandonment of consumer goods that has made huge financial gains for those that choose to remove the iPAD and BMW lifestyle on credit for hanging onto the car for another few years or getting a new unfashionably economical car over ego, or keeping the desktop PC instead of a shiny new iPAD that looks good but offers up nothing worth writing home about. More importantly having money in the bank!

This all fits into Shipping container home lifestyles as the minimalistic approach is what comes as part of the package. As well as the fact you can build yourself and in modular form meaning the only real upfront big investment is the land your sitting the new home on. Everything else can be added as and when it can be afforded or needed. Its the common sense approach to life having what we need rather than what we want, sure its nice to eat lobster and dine out but everyday? having large houses and having to heat/cool them are a wasted expense alongside the fact energy resources are getting more and more expensive yet downsizing you would instantly be saving even if you didn’t go down the shipping container home route.

Shipping Container Playground – By Phooey Architects Australia

Shipping containers as a Children’s playground makes a lot of sense especially taking one of the most indestructible pieces of equipment for moving stuff round the world in with some of the most destructive age groups on the planet. Kids are naturally wanting to play but creating a safe environment that also delivers a space for creative art, dance as well as meeting with friends the shipping container is perfect for the job.Melbourne-based Phooey Architects came up with this design to give kids in a South Melbourne public housing project somewhere to go. On top of the obvious it also assists the kids in learning about recycling as the projects materials down to the windows and fixings are all recycled materials. The hand rails, balconies and overhangs all come from recycled cut out pieces from the shipping container such as the door openings.

Love the look of the interior and exterior as it has “kids” written all over it with the design. I am sure the shipping container playground gets a lot of use by the local inhabitants.

shipping container playground - Australia

shipping container playground - Australia

If you don’t get shipping container homes you probably never will.

Its an odd setup living in a shipping container home to others who can’t see the advantages of doing so as its also a life choice as well as every other reason that makes us decide to do it. But who is right and who is wrong? Well you will get every excuse why its not a great idea and in fact many people will think your crazy. Odd thing is though after its constructed and they have visited I do wonder how many minds change in an instant as it becomes practical and moves from a box to a home opening up the possibilities of options to them they didn’t see before.

For myself I really don’t mind peoples negative perception on the subject as I have yet to hear anyone who has either lived in one or used one as a temporary home e.g. troops in Iraq complain about it as those who have used them can see the benefits over other designs and materials. The recycling side of things also interests me but as I live in Asia its a bit of an odd one as most leave here never to return sat on dock sides all over the world where import outstrips exports.

If you don’t believe in it that’s fine as well as everyone is free to make their own choices that’s the whole point of life if we were all regime we might as well be bar coded and have a lobotomy.

Is A Shipping Container Home Good For All Countries?

I find a lot of the information on shipping container homes rather generic and do wonder how many of them actually have or do create container homes themselves. Lets face it there is millions of people out there looking to make themselves the next big thing on the internet but is it possible? Recycling other peoples data only goes so far. I collated the information on here across the web simply as a source of ideas for shipping container homes its not the be all and end all and its not all the solutions in one place (give me enough time it might be though!). But the one thing I can say is that shipping container homes are probably the most adaptable home on the planet to its environment. I have seen shipping container homes in deserts, ice cold arctic conditions, tropical climates (that’s me) and pretty much everything else in between.

Cost affective, easy to source, easy to work with are all good reasons for shipping container home construction. But also add to this the fact it can be made thousands of miles away prefabricated at low cost and then shipped in its own box its also financially viable even for custom built homes. But it doesn’t stop there as cargotecture and green construction are a couple of the main reasons people went with shipping containers as buildings in the first place as its something available and often disused or excess to requirements. Recycling has been a key driving force to the shipping container home moment. For me its a bit more complex as my main reasoning is anti-corruption, I live in one of the most corrupt countries on the planet and pre-fabrication at a factory with fixed pricing will help stop some of the corruption (not all as I have no magic wand) but disappearing funds as much as 70% vanishing from projects is a bit more difficult when the box is sign,sealed delivered on a fixed price. I have no doubt local politicians won’t go for it but doesn’t mean that many of the NGO’s and charities operating here won’t as it balances the books easier especially if involved with the social low cost housing market, as well as disaster relief with water purification plants and generators to get communities functioning again as quick as possible. The shipping container is not only good for all countries but possibly the only real functional building that can do what its asked again and again, this is why the shipping container movement grows year on year.