The World’s First Plantable Coffee Cup

Drinking coffee is about to get a whole lot sweeter for nature.
Reduce.Reuse.Grow.
  • Article by Amy Bradney-George
  • March 09, 2015 at 5:47 PM

Imagine if your takeaway coffee cup could be planted and grown into flowers, shrubs and trees. That’s the vision one US startup hopes to make a reality later this month with the help of Kickstarter.

California-based company Reduce. Reuse. Grow. has developed a coffee cup with native seeds embedded in it as a way of helping reduce disposable waste and increase reforestation in local communities. The cups look almost exactly the same as any other takeaway coffee cup, except with a geographic image of the native plant region, information on the seeds embedded in it, and planting instructions on the bottom of the cup.

To transform the cups to plants is as easy as drinking the coffee, soaking the cup for five minutes and following the planting instructions. The cups are also compost certified and biodegradable, so even if they’re not planted they will break down in 180 days.

On the Kickstarter campaign page for the project, Reduce. Reuse. Grow. also says that the cups “will be able to extract over 1 ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere annually once planted.”

This outcome is a stark contrast to the current waste created by coffee consumption in the US, with Reduce. Reuse. Grow. saying American’s discard over 146 billion coffee cups annually.

“Even when we think we are recycling and doing a good deed, the paper itself within these products can only be reused 2-3x before the fibers are unusable and discarded into local landfills without consumer’s knowing.”

The plantable cups, however, give people a chance to support community planting projects, home gardens and everything in between, with plans to also have special bins where cups are collected for larger regrowth projects.

“Reforestation locations can be anything from small community projects to State or National parks where fires, over grazing or other habitat destruction has happened and additional native planting are needed in order to replenish those areas,” the company says.

It’s Kickstarter campaign, which ends on 15th March 2015, has been featured by the crowd funding platform and already overshot it’s US$10,000 target, with over US$17,500 donated so far.

Reduce. Reuse. Grow. says the money will help it move into the next phase of prototype and market testing, with plans to have a commercial product ready by the end of March 2015.

The company is the brainchild of the Landscape Architecture Department of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and also supported by Greenfield Paper Co and Custom Ink. In a YouTube video about Reduce. Reuse. Grow., project developer Alex Henige says the company “is the new solution for dealing with all the negative effects produced by our current consumption habits”.

“With Reduce. Reuse. Grow., we are giving the consumer direct control over what they can do with perceived waste,” he says.

“What we are really trying to do is to change the lives of a group of people, with the same material that they take for granted every single day.”

He says the current disposable products we all use lead to environmental damage including deforestation, over-grazed fauna and hazardous waste deposits “that take years to decompose”.

“We need a simpler solution,” he says. “Instead of sending our waste thousands of miles away to further demolish our land, why don’t we keep it local and help the very things that we as a community want to see flourish open in time?”

Images: screenshot Reduce.Reuse.Grow video (via YouTube); screenshot from Kickstarter campaign page.

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