Java Terraria Green Action, Living Valentines

My retired recycling colleague rang me up seeking a use for many coffee pots, from the charity where she now volunteers. Naturally, I thought: PLANTS!


This local eco-project marries the iconic coffee pot (not plastic!) with sedums, adorable succulent
plants so good at living that one of their folk-names is Never Die. Java terraria are one-of-a-kind terrariums, made with love by a coffee-savoring, Buy Local & Live Green advocate and plant ally:
Jean Ponzi, me.

These tabletop nature spaces pour an invitation to dance with plants! Sedums will cohabit with the brownest human thumbs. Grow your confidence with our leafy partners in the Dance of Life! Plant-breath produces what all us animals need to breathe, and vice-versa. Plants are super-easy to love. They will make a lovely Valentine.


Available exclusively at Stone Spiral Coffee, 2500 Sutton in Maplewood, Java terraria supports this
local enterprise. Sales of these terrariums benefit my favorite coffee-art-music-philosophy corner
gathering spot, with a portion of proceeds going to Home Sweet Home, the non-profit source of the
pots. As we all pull together, may we all get through!

Giving this project a bio-scientific name, Java terraria, is a nod to the noble history and resilience of
Sedum, a family of plants so hardy that any Homo sapiens caring for them can succeed. Another
common name for these perky plants in the large Crassulaceae, or Stonecrop, family is Life
Everlasting. Really.

Succulent sedums are so well adapted to drought (like when you neglect to water) you can refresh them with a spritz bottle. Some sedum varieties need full sun, but many will thrive in the limited light-space nexus of apartment windows.

The genus Sedum was first described in 1753, by Carolus Linneaus – Mister Taxonomic
Nomenclature himself – the Swedish botanist who established the two-name, or binomial, system of classifying plants. In Latin, of course. Then animal scientists tagged it too.

Sedum is the top-performing plant genus of choice for Green Roof installations. Perennial varieties regenerate, year-to-year. Once established, sedum will thrive on available rainfall. Living roofs planted with sedum are on Ford’s truck plant in Dearborn, Michigan, the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars plant in Goodwood, England, Nintendo of America’s roof, California Academy of Sciences and the Javits Center in New York City, among other high-profile locations. Living roofs add cooling capacity to the
buildings they top, while plant roots slow down stormwater runoff to conserve and sometimes capture rainfall, protecting water quality by reducing combined-sewer overflows.

Java terraria’s creative reuse honors the purpose of Home Sweet Home, the terrific Brentwood-based “furniture bank” that literally makes housing livable, furnishing homes for families in need. Their coffee pot oversupply is a common issue for non-profits that circulate household goods.

If my well-intentioned donation includes a Melita that doesn’t work, the charity has two options: pay to landfill the broken item or activate your resource network, hoping to find another user.

Notice I didn’t say they can fix it. The mission of Home Sweet Home is “distributing gently used or new furnishings.” Some charities do focus on repair – of some items. When did you last fix a Mr. Coffee? That’s another post focus. A good electronics recycler will accept and deconstruct “anything with a cord.” But what about that glass pot?

It’s not the type of glass accepted by conventional recyclers. Glass items like food jars, drinking glasses, window glass and coffee pots all melt at different temperatures, so anything other than food container and bottle glass will contaminate the material stream that goes from our single-stream recycling bins to manufacturers of recycled-content products. Metal rings and plastic handles, added to help you avoid dropping hot pots o’ joe, are recycling bin contaminants too.

Home Sweet Home is doing its diligence, working down the re-use chain with anything they can’t give to clients. And what they do with what they need!

Founder and Executive Director Betsy Reznicek adapted the concept of a furniture bank from other cities. With a rented truck, borrowed warehouse space, two staff members and a $3,000 donation, Home Sweet Home delivered to its first family in October of 2015. Through strong community support and partnerships, Home Sweet Home now serves over 600 families a year. They run four trucks daily with 15 staff and over 100 volunteers. Their now 10,000 ft2 warehouse is often packed with gently used or new furnishings. COVID safety prompted pivots, but good work goes on. People, systems, space and relationships have re-homed over 114,000 individual household items, given
with care and dignity to families in need.

Stone Spiral Coffee is at 2500 Sutton Boulevard. Current health-and-safety limited hours are 8 am to 1 pm, daily. Boost the love from your Java terraria gift with a carton of homemade heat-and-serve Stone Spiral Soup, for vegans or carnivores. Dinner and a Plant Dance and . . .

5 thoughts on “Java Terraria Green Action, Living Valentines

  1. Thanks for local love for Stone Spiral, and for plants! The spritz refreshing Sedum humidifies you, two Green antidotes to chill sequester blues. May a carafe remaining in this limited edition perk up your environs. Fun Fact, research based: the simple act of looking at plants reduces stress for a human. Stay well & warm, all – thanks again!

  2. I bought one right away. Glad I did, because now there are only three left. What a great idea, Jean, benefiting the best coffee shop in St. Louis.

  3. This is a terrific way to recycle – and thank you to Stone Spiral for having these available. It’s a great cause; Home Sweet Home is a real asset to Brentwood. I’d purchase one of these in support, but seeing the photo, I realized that I too have an unused coffeepot, and I had been wondering what to do with it. Now I know. Maybe not in this temperature because any purchased plant would probably be in shock on its journey home, but when it’s nicer and they won’t freeze, this will be a great way to keep my old coffeepot out of the landfill. Thanks for this idea – and for the win-win, Jean Ponzi.