Posted on: June 10, 2016 at 11:36 am
Last updated: August 3, 2019 at 1:27 pm

It is estimated that around 50% of the population in the U.S.A. drinks coffee or some sort of caffeine product on a daily basis. That’s more than 150 million people everyday! Although a growing number of people are bringing their mugs to coffee shops, partly due to encouragement from both environmental groups and coffee companies themselves (some offer a discount for it), it is undeniable that this incredibly high amount of coffee consumption creates a lot of waste in the form of used coffee cups.


Aside from being a major contributor to the growing landfills across the world, you can also regularly see coffee cups and lids strewn across the ground on sidewalks, parks and sometimes even in ravines and forests.  Thankfully, a new start-up company in California has found a way to transform this would-be-trash into trees, and they are called Reduce. Reuse. Grow.

Plantable Coffee Cups



The project originated in early 2015, when the campaign was posted on Kickstarter with the description: “A coffee cup that has native seeds embedded within the material to be used for reforestation in your local communities.” The project quickly exceeded its set goal of $10,000, generating more than twice as much funding with a final amount of $21,077.

According to the company’s website, the “World’s First Plantable Coffee Cup” is going to be made out of a “renewable resourced paper medium” and will have a specific type of plant seeds embedded into it. In theory, the paper would naturally break down into soil while the seeds in the paper will grow into trees. The cup would have the state that the seeds originate from designed on it, and will also provide information on the type of seed mixed used as well as planting instructions.


Although the company has only worked on planting their cups in California, Alex Henige, the founder of Reduce. Reuse. Grow, is confident in their cup’s ability to work with seeds native to other states as well.


“We have done testing with only a handful of native seeds here in California as related to coffee heat. We have had no problem with their germination due to the fact that they are not coming in direct contact with the coffee itself,” Henige told Bored Panda. “The liner as well as the paper absorbs alot of the heat allowing the seeds to not be effected directly.”

Henige further explains that, although they know of a variety of seeds that can easily be used with their cup, the heat generated from the coffee may interfere with a large amount of different types of seeds that Reduce. Reuse. Grow plans on using.

“We do know that there are a handful of seeds that will make it no problem, due to the nature in which they are meant for in the wild, very hardy and durable. However with a majority of the seeds, it will take time to really lock in the temperatures and times exposed to these temps in order to all operate and germinate properly.”

The company plans on using different types of plant seeds depending on the location that they are planted in. These include a variety of different wild flowers and trees.


Although this project is still in the planning process, according to the company’s website, they have recently gotten in contact with a paper-manufacturing company to started testing the paper-seed process that this project was based on. They have also been accepted by an innovation and entrepreneurship program called the CIE Accelerator Program, which is located at the HotHouse in downtown San Luis Obispo.

For more information on Reduce. Reuse. Grow, and to stay up-to-date on their progress, you can visit their website here.


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