Make weeds great again
The common dandelion is amongst the most detested weeds, portrayed as an undesirable, unsightly weed that spoils the lawn.
However, it should be a highly valued plant as it provides the main food source for pollinating insects in early spring and creates a nutrient-rich fertiliser for surrounding plants. It is also a source of natural latex, its dried, powdered roots and leaves can purify water and the roots can be used as a coffee substitute.
In the UK around 95 million cups of coffee are consumed daily. With this demand comes unseen environmental and social impacts in the developing world, where 80% of all coffee is produced. To satisfy Western demand, sun-grown monocultures, pesticide use and artificial fertilisers have become standard practice. This has a devastating impact on biodiversity. As the world plummets into a mass extinction event, protecting the populations of flora and fauna is of vital importance. In the UK alone, there has been a 56% decline in species populations since 1970.
There is a need for local alternatives to coffee. By creating a highly traded commodity, 'Make Weeds Great Again' aims to increase the perceived value of the dandelion, arguing for its need to thrive within the natural ecosystem.
The hand-operated ‘root-to-cup’ system invites users to make their own coffee alternative from dandelion roots: from collecting, processing and roasting through to the more familiar processes of brewing a cup of coffee. This low-tech and local production system has a significantly lower environmental impact compared to imported coffee. As dandelions grow abundantly and everywhere, they can easily be harvested from urban green spaces, with the roasting process requiring far less energy.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
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