Turn Trash Into Trees: Plantable Coffee Cups Embedded With Seeds Can Revive Forests

April 13, 2019 Updated: April 18, 2019

Americans discard over 146 billion coffee cups annually. What if every time you threw away a used takeaway coffee cup, a tree sprouted in its place? Does that sound like the stuff of children’s stories? Well, not so for one man, whose company has designed a takeaway coffee cup embedded with seeds that can be planted after your delicious hot beverage is no more.

The next time you throw out your coffee cup it could become a plant: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/reducereusegrow/the-worlds-first-plantable-coffee-cup

Posted by Kickstarter on Monday, March 9, 2015

Alex Henige, CEO of sustainable packaging startup Reduce.Reuse.Grow, was troubled by the piles of trash he saw mounting by the side of the road. The innovative “plantable coffee cup” was born. In a video shared by the Huffington Post, Henige explains his major motivation: yes, he is concerned with reducing waste, but he also sees the bigger picture.

He wants to connect people “back to the landscapes they live in.”

"Our goal is to set a new standard within the disposable foodservice packaging industry. We believe with each product…

Posted by Reduce Reuse Grow Inc. on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The coffee cup designed by the California-based startup was backed by a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over US$21,000 in the summer of 2015. The cup is, of course, biodegradable (made from a plant-based, compostable plastic called “PLA”), but its unique selling point is the native seeds embedded in the cup’s walls. The cups contain a variety of different native seed types based upon their location of distribution.

“We have such a diverse ecosystem here,” Henige shared, in conversation with Bored Panda, “that we have the ability to test over 1,000 species pretty much all in our backyard with some of the world’s leading soil scientists and eco gurus.”

The World's First Plantable Coffee Cup

If you plant this coffee cup, it will grow into a tree.

Posted by HuffPost on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Reduce.Reuse.Grow has tested a handful of native seeds for their response to the heat of coffee, but Henige regaled that they have had “no problem with their germination due to the fact that they are not coming in direct contact with the coffee itself.” The cup’s lining absorbs much of the heat, and the seeds remain intact.

Some of the seeds that the company uses are intentionally “hardy and durable.” However, testing will continue to make sure all the seeds used by the innovative cups will endure the heat of the drink and make it to the planting stage, undamaged.

Did you know the average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups every year? Imagine if each of those cups resulted in a plant being planted.

Posted by Reduce Reuse Grow Inc. on Saturday, June 23, 2018

As for the customer: you don’t need a well-stocked garden shed and acres of land to get involved. Planting is simple! Each cup has basic planting instructions printed on its base: “Unravel cup,” it says. “Soak in water for 5 minutes, plant and watch grow.”

For those who want to contribute but simply don’t have the means to plant the cups themselves, there’s a solution. Participating stores encourage individual planters but will accept returns and have pledged to plant the cups on their customers’ behalf. One cup equals one tree, and nobody’s taking “no” for an answer!

A huge thank you to TedxCalPoly for hosting such an amazing event last night! Reduce. Reuse. Grow. was honored to be…

Posted by Reduce Reuse Grow Inc. on Saturday, October 22, 2016

The statistics speak for themselves. One PLA cup decomposes within 90 to 180 days and grows at least one tree, which will extract 1 ton of CO2 over a 40-year span. On the other hand, one traditional cup produces 35 grams (approx. 1 ounce) of CO2, which is released into the atmosphere, and only decomposes after a staggering 5 to 50 years.

“This is a product I stand behind fully,” Henige shared with Bored Panda, proudly. Plant a cup and grow a tree? If this is the future of food packaging, then the future looks fascinating.

Sustainable Packaging. Restoring Landscapes.

Posted by Reduce Reuse Grow Inc. on Friday, April 6, 2018

Looking ahead, Henige’s bigger picture perspective endures. “We believe with each product served, we can have a positive impact within that local community,” he said.