How Your Morning Coffee Could Help Grow a Forest

For those of you who start your day with a trip to the local coffee shop for a quick cup on-the-go, your days of wasteful, single use coffee cups may be nearing an end. At least, that is the hope of start-up Reduce. Reuse. Grow, and its plantable Coffee Cup V1.

The company’s founder, landscape architecture student Alex Henige, spent much time pondering the seemingly antiquated notion of throwing away countless pieces of disposable packaging, given what our society knows about its impact on our ecological system. He believed there was a better way to dispose of this particular form of waste, and decided to focus his senior thesis on the idea of ‘plantable packaging.’ 

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The Coffee Cup V1 aims to reduce the negative impact our daily use of disposables has on our environment. Photo: Reduce. Reuse. Grow

According to Reduce. Reuse. Grow’s KickStarter campaign, aimed at raising $10,000 to begin commercial prototyping and manufacturing of the Coffee Cup V1, the average yearly use of disposable coffee cups is 146 billion in the U.S. alone. RRG also points out, which many of us do not know, that even if we chose to recycle our paper cups, there is a cap on how many times recycled materials can actually be used before the fibers fundamentally break down. So even with the best intentions, our current efforts towards reducing the negative effect of waste on our ecosystem simply aren’t cutting it. 

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RRG aims to change this and the disposable packaging landscape by developing containers made of compostable materials that have seeds implanted within them. The very fibers that have become too rough for recycling and are destined for the landfill will be salvaged one final time. Once used, they biodegrade within 180 days. 

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One plantable coffee cup will go one to spawn one tree, which will extract one ton of CO2 in it’s estimated 40 year lifespan. Photo: Reduce. Reuse. Grow

The idea is to promote reforestation on a local level. The seeds implanted in the cups are indigenous to the area in which the cup is sold - meaning that communities can give back to the environment in which they find themselves sipping on that invigorating cup-of-Joe. 

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The path of the plantable coffee cup starts at your local coffee shop and ends in your local soil. Photo: Reduce. Reuse. Grow

Coffee shops that feature this compostable cup will be equipped with a special bin, so even if consumers themselves aren’t inclined to take the time to plant their cups, RRG will arrange for collection of the discarded packaging. And if all else fails and the cups do reach a landfill, they will biodegrade within the 180 days and go on to make soil and energy. In short, there is no way in which this cup will fail to do good. 

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The instructions are simple for the plantable coffee cup. Unfold it. Soak it. Plant it. Photo: Reduce. Reuse. Grow. 

With a guide to what seeds are housed within it and instructions for planting printed on the cup, RRG will be making it very easy for coffee loving consumers everywhere to do their part in repairing a suffering ecosystem. 

Check out Reduce. Reuse. Grow’s KickStarter campaign and find out how you can be a part of a solution. After all, what’s a good cup of coffee without a beautiful place to enjoy it in? RRG predicts the cup will be available by the end of March, 2015.

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