Since first opening its doors in December 2019, the downtown plant shop has become even more intentional about its plastic waste, carbon footprint and overall environmental impact.
In 2020, shop owner James Curtis began transitioning his shop from selling plants out of new plastic grow pots to storing plants in upcycled plastic bottles with their own built-in sub-irrigation system.
This change has been beneficial for both the plants and the environment. By growing seedlings and propagated plants in the upcycled plastic bottles, the plants receive more nutrients, the soil is healthier and excess water can drain properly. By reusing plastic bottles as grow pots, Curtis no longer has to buy or sell new plastic growing pots, resulting in less plastic waste. And once the plants outgrow small plastic bottles, they can be moved to larger containers, such as reused plastic milk gallons, 2-liter bottles and 7-gallon buckets.
“By looking at our materials in a different way, we can start building with things that are around us,” Curtis says.
Plants can still have stylish containers without single-use plastic, too. Curtis makes handcrafted custom planters from natural cedarwood. On sleek rectangular and cylinder-shaped planters, he hand-paints everything from song lyrics to faces. He uses wood-burning, screen printing and paint markers to create unique designs that bring the planters to life.
On Jan. 1, Outside Stimuli began featuring a new planter or plant in the shop’s front window display (and on social media) every day for 100 days. Each plant features a QR code available for customers to shop the display from the window. Designs include the phrase like “grow where you’re planted,” “hope” in graffiti-style letters and “HBCU,” and also designs featuring a print of Nina Simone, multicolored abstract faces, and an image of a young Black man with a high-top fade hairstyle wearing a hoodie.
“We have to make upcycling cool,” Curtis says. “It takes culture to change the culture.”
This year, Outside Stimuli plans to offer workshops on how to grow food from containers, how to use upcycled plastic bottles to grow plants and the importance of testing your soil. Workshops take place at the original Plant Studio at 207 Florida St. Customers can shop plants a few doors down by appointment at the Outside Stimuli “White Room,” a showroom and consultation space at 227 Florida St. to view and discuss plants with Curtis one-on-one.
Curtis hopes to encourage others to start integrating environmentally conscious practices into their lives one day at a time by upcycling reusable items and being mindful of their waste.
“We’re all renting on this planet,” Curtis says. “We have to stop being so selfish. It’s not all about us. We have to think about the next generation.” outsidestimuli.com
This article was originally published in the April 2022 issue of 225 magazine.