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Plantable Pencils: Gimmicks or Environmental Solution
   2016-01-03 19:20:45    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Fei Fei

The screenshot shows the website of Sprout, demonstrating their products. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]

An eco-friendly Danish company has come up with a new product - plantable pencils, as a way of highlighting the concept of sustainability.

Some have dismissed the idea as simply a gimmick, saying the pencils are no solution to our environmental problems.

CRI's Fei Fei brings you more.


The creations made by Danish company Sprout focus on things you can recycle and plant like pencils, cards and stickers.

Their plantable pencils are one of their hot products.

As the name suggests, plantable pencils are fitted with a small biodegradable capsule at the end that contains seeds.

Michael Stausholm, Sprout's chief executive, says once the pencil has been sharpened to a stub, it can be planted in soil instead of being thrown away.

"It shows people ĘC kids, grownups ĘC in a very easy way what is sustainability all about. Don't just use things and throw them away. Use things, and then use them for something else. In this case, planting it and giving it new life."

The seeds inside the capsules range from flowers to herbs and fruiting plants.

Sprout's product developer Helle Hougaard runs regular tests to ensure their pencils contain the best possible variety of a particular seed.

"One of the very fast-growing seeds are basil and marigold, they germinate within a week or so, they are quite fast. And especially basil and mint are very popular (with customers) all around the world."

The botanist also says they are testing out more varieties, especially those difficult to grow in cooler northern European homes.

But some are downplaying their importance when it comes to longer term sustainability.

Carsten Beck is the director of research at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies and takes a particular interest in retail and consumer trends and sustainability.

"Gimmicks put a smile on your face, they create awareness, they say, 'OK, here we are, we have thought about sustainability'. That's cool and fun, and we will always have that. The gimmick part of the equation when it comes to sustainability will not be part of the core strategies of companies, because gimmicks are still gimmicks."

Back at Sprout's headquarters in the Copenhagen suburbs, Stausholm says his plantable products can still make an impact.

"We don't proclaim that we save the planet at all, but it's a small thing, it's the small things that we do in our everyday lives, step by step. We can all make a difference in the way we think when we consume."

Stausholm says Sprout now sells between 300 thousand and 400 thousand pencils a month.

IKEA, Disney, Pepsi, and Bank of America, as well as public bodies and municipalities, are all on Sprout's customer list.

They are also developing small waterproof boxes called "Tiny Gardens", targeted at people who don't want to keep soil in the kitchen.

For CRI, this is Fei Fei.



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