Credit: Yoshinaka Ono

Plant a newspaper in Japan!

Posted on 10 May 2017.

In 2016, one of the most well-known Japanese dailies, The Mainichi, printed a special issue that could be planted and would flower - encouraging people to think about giving things a second lease of life.

What do you do with your newspaper when you’ve finished reading it? Leave it on the subway, put it on the top of a pile of other newspapers, or throw it away? In France, about 3 billion newspapers and magazines are printed every year. Imagine if once they had been read, they were turned into plants... it’s been done in Japan! The Mainichi, one of the most important daily newspapers in the country known for its stance on the environment, printed a special 100% biodegradable "green” issue in 2016.

A newspaper that grows

The issue was published for "Greenery Day" on May 4, 2016. Most of the articles were about major environmental issues. But most importantly, the newspaper was designed to be reused. It was printed with plant-based ink – acting as fertilizer - on recycled paper, dotted with flower seeds (poppies, roses, daisies, etc.). After reading it, the reader just had to tear the newspaper into small pieces and plant it. With regular watering and a few weeks of waiting, it produced pretty flowers.

With a circulation of 4.6 million country-wide, the special edition was a real success – huge numbers of flowers making Japan greener and cleaner. As we know, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. The more plants there are, the better we all breathe!

Is the future of the press green?

The Mainichi's goal was to raise awareness to ecological problems, encourage people to think about the circular economy and give things a new life. The newspaper was also used in schools to raise young people’s awareness.

Could this flower-power newspaper present a new opportunity for printed newspapers? Paper sales are declining to the benefit of digital versions – so could a recyclable newspaper be a durable, fun solution that would encourage people to stay with paper formats while re-vegetating the world?

Find out more:

- From paper to wood

Main picture: Credit Yoshinaka Ono