This is a tree: the plantable cup

Posted on 07 January 2016.

Alex Henige has designed a biodegradable cup that grows into flowers and trees when planted. He hopes to contribute to reforestation and reducing the amount of waste.

A few weeks ago, we presented the Tree Book Tree which is a plantable book. What if we took this one step further? 400 million cups of coffee are drunk in the USA everyday (over 2.25 billion worldwide which represents 146 billion cups thrown away every year. Faced with this waste, Alex Henige launched the project: Reduce. Reuse. Grow. The idea was to design recycled biodegradable cups with the seeds of wild flowers and trees from all areas of the world embedded in them. For example, the prototype for California contains poppy and redwood seeds.

Alex Henige wants to offer heads of coffee chains or independent coffee shops the possibility to serve their hot drinks in these original ecological cups. When you finish your espresso or latte in the shop or elsewhere you have two options: "plant" the cup or throw it away in a special trash can.

If you choose to plant the seeds, you need to unfold the cup, soak it in water for five minutes and then bury it in the ground. A map of locations where the seeds can be planted depending on the plant species is printed on the cup. This can be done in the wild of course but also in urban areas, private gardens or shared gardens. According to Alex Henige, once planted, these Reduce. Reuse. Grow. cups will extract a ton of CO2 per year per tree. Cups thrown away in special trash cans will be collected by the company or local partner associations and planted in areas where vegetation is threatened or has been destroyed. Cups that are accidentally dropped in the street will disintegrate in 180 days.

Alex Henige launched a successful fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, which ended last summer, to move from prototype phase to industrial production of these plantable cups. He is already thinking about applying this principle to other commonly used packaging. Until then, Reduce. Reuse. Grow. sells batches of biodegradable cups to retailers and a tree is planted for each item bought.