Plantable Seed Paper: A Beautiful Way to Reduce Paper Waste

Did you know that paper accounts for 25% of waste in landfills? Or that close to 68 million trees are cut down each year to produce paper products? Unfortunately, logging requires enormous amounts of energy and water and contributes to air pollution and waste production as well. Would you like to know a fun and creative way to get involved in paper reuse and making a difference? Keep reading! 

Growing Positive Attitudes, a U-M student project launched through the Fall 2020 Entrepreneurial Creativity course (ALA 223), is raising awareness about a great way to recycle paper and share the gift of vegetables, herbs, or flowers with friends and family: plantable seed paper. Plantable seed paper is paper that is embedded with any variety of seeds, so after it has served its initial purpose, you can put it in the soil to grow plants. And, you can easily make it yourself or choose to purchase it!

How to make your own seed paper

If you’d like to make seed paper yourself, here are the basic steps to follow:

  1. Take previously used paper, and cut it into pieces and/or shred it.
  2. Blend the shredded paper with water until a smooth pulp is formed.
  3. Add a teaspoon of the seeds of your choice to the pulp (stir don’t blend).
  4. Pour the mixture onto a window screen (preferred) or into a strainer to get rid of all excess water. 
  5. Spread the pulp out and flatten it. If you are using a strainer, you can do this on a paper towel. If you poured the mixture onto a window screen, you can do this step right on the screen.
  6. Be patient and let the paper dry, preferably 24 hours. 

How to plant the seed paper

After you have used the seed paper you made for taking notes, writing down a recipe, or whatever you would use traditional paper for: the seed paper should be planted in a pot or garden bed. Remember to place it in soil, cover it lightly with more soil, and give it a good drink of water regularly! You can plant this paper just as you would regular seeds. Once planted, the paper will gradually biodegrade, while the seeds take root and produce the flowers, herbs, or vegetables you chose to embed in the paper. 

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Plantable paper is the gift that keeps on giving

Not only does plantable seed paper combat excess landfill waste, it may also be given as a thoughtful gift or card. Plantable paper can be used for advertising, to make birthday cards, holiday cards, invitations, bookmarks, drink coasters, and business cards. By repurposing and planting your paper instead of throwing it away, you can help to beautify the environment while also giving a friend or family member a gift they will certainly enjoy. Your planted paper can be the gift that keeps on giving, just make sure to write on the back a short note explaining that the paper has seeds embedded in it and the instructions for how to plant it! 

Plantable goods can contribute to reforestation, which improves the overall health of the soil, wetlands, water quality, and animal habitats. Also, plantable seed paper can help to beautify the environment and serve as another creative way to reduce waste and repurpose used products. Together, we can work to transform the way that we handle our paper waste, and add a bit of positivity to what we can plant in our environment.

What are you waiting for? Gather those used notebook pages and start making some plantable seed paper! Do you have a creative idea for how you plan to use this paper? If so, comment below, we would love to hear your thoughts.