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World's First Plantable Coffee Cup to Replenish Forests

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Unless you bring your own thermos or mug, paper cups are the de facto option for on-the-go coffee. But as we all know, producing these simple items mow down forests of trees and contributes to mountains of landfill waste. In fact, Starbucks alone goes through 4 billion paper cups a year globally and most of these plastic-lined menaces are never recycled.

Reduce. Reuse. Grow. is tackling the coffee industry's behemoth paper cup problem by giving single-use beverage holders a further purpose: reforestation.

 

But a noble project from Reduce. Reuse. Grow. is tackling the coffee industry's behemoth paper cup problem by giving these single-use beverage holders a further purpose: reforestation.

A San Luis Obispo, California startup claims to have developed "The World's First Plantable Coffee Cup." The prototype 12-ouncer has seeds from local nurseries and landscapes embedded within its post-consumer, paper-based material. That means after you're done with the cup, you can unravel it, soak it in water for a few minutes, bury it and let nature take over.

To prevent the spread of invasive plants, the bottom of the cup details the seed variety and also includes instructions on how to plant it either in the northern or central coast of California. (So if you got the cup, you wouldn't want to plant it outside of specific regions). For those who don't want to get their hands dirty, the cup can be tossed into a designated Reduce. Reuse. Grow. bin where it'll eventually be taken to a reforestation location.

The cup is currently in prototype phase, and the company is crowdsource funding in order to take it into commercial production and target coffee shops to stock the cups.

Even though there are already recyclable cups on the market, as Reduce. Reuse. Grow. points out on their Kickstarter page, those cups can only be recycled a few times before it's trashed, whereas their cups are compost certified and can biodegrade within 180 days.

"Even when we think we are recycling and doing a good deed, the paper itself within these products can only be reused [two to three times] before the fibers are unusable and discarded into local landfills without consumer's knowing," the page reads.

Seed-filled everyday items aren't exactly a new concept. There are already plantable greeting cards and even memorial tree urns, as well as a similar paper seed cup that someone tried to market a few years back.

Still, it's clear that something needs to be done about the country's 146 billion paper cup a year problem. Reduce. Reuse. Grow. began as a senior project by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo landscape architecture student Alex Henige, who wrote on his bio page, "The thought of 'throwing away' items which would later be sent into local landfills always seemed like a strange concept and ultimately a huge design flaw within or current consumption day to day actions."

We'll drink to that.

Watch here as Henige shares his concerns about consumerism and the work of Reduce. Reuse. Grow.:

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