Container gardens Gardening

Pee Planters May Save Lives in Amsterdam

GreenPee planters have a urinal on the side. Photo: theceomagazine.com

12 new green urinals have been installed in Amsterdam to stop “wild peeing” … and they may also save some lives to boot.

The urinals, called GreenPees, produced by the Dutch company Urban Senses, look like traditional planters and have plants growing from the top. But there is also a target zone for urination on the side. The goal is to reduce public urination, an age-old problem in Amsterdam that damages buildings, creates undesirable odors and can be a health problem.

GreenPee planter near canal
I find this GreenPee a bit too close to the canal, don’t you? Photo: GreenPee

And lives may be saved. According to the tourism information site DutchAmsterdam, nearly 15 inebriated men drown every year in Amsterdam after losing their balance while peeing into a canal. So, guys, play it safe and pee into the pot, not into the canal!

4 GreenPees were placed around Rembrandtplein square in a pilot project in 2018 and resulted in a reduction of 49% in wild peeing. No estimate was made of lives saved, but then, the Rembrandtplein is one of the rare spots in Amsterdam that is not located on a canal.

How They Work

Man urinating into a GreenPee planter.
You can readily find men eager to demonstrate how the GreenPee works. Photo: S. Boztas, DutchNews.nl

The GreenPees are installed in public places, especially near bars where large quantities of beer are consumed. One side of the planter (or two sides, if you prefer to pee with a friend) has a clearly marked target where the pee deposit can be made. The tank inside is filled with odor absorbing hemp fibers: it is fully self-contained and no flushing is required, thus no water is wasted. After composting, this fiber-urine-mixture becomes a phosphate-rich organic fertilizer used to fertilize the city’s green spaces.

A wide range of plants can be grown in the container which has a water reservoir and a wicking system to reduce watering needs.

As far as I know, pea plants are not among the plants so far tested.

Misconceptions

When I first heard of the GreenPees, I assumed that the urine was being used to water the plants directly, which seemed like a wonderful idea, but apparently that would be too much of a good thing. Some have more than 75 pee visits per day! The poor plants would quickly be overcome by the quantity. Instead, the container inside, which can handle up to 300 pee visits, is regularly emptied. A smart sensor can be included to warn the operator when it’s time to do a round.

The GreenPee is presently still a strictly male-oriented device, but research is underway on developing a LadyGreenPee.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

7 comments on “Pee Planters May Save Lives in Amsterdam

  1. Thanks for starting my day with not only an informative but an interesting post. It is amazing what we can do when we think outside the normal box. 🙂

  2. So would the ladies’ version be called a “Sweet Pea”?

  3. We lived in the Netherlands for 4 years and it was confounding what people would do out in public on public property .. the Dutch are such wonderful people, but so quirky (Europe in general is actually) .. public health is difficult to enforce, but this should at least “train” some of the trespassers? with a bit of humor included .. by the way I love the “sweet pea” notion ! LOL

  4. That is just weird. If nearly 15 inebriated people drown annually by falling into a canal, how many people fall into the canal but do not drown? There are too many people falling into the canals. A 49% reduction of wild peeing sounds too precise for something that can not be so precisely calculated. What is with the vegetation on top? It does not make the contraptions any less unsightly. Good old fashioned honey huts would be no worse, unless there is a problem with those. Here, honey huts are very unpopular, not only because they are visually unappealing, but also because of the expense of repair of vandalism. It is very unfortunate.

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