The Plantable Papers Of Japan

What do you do with your newspaper once you’ve finished reading it? A Japanese publisher of ‘The Mainichi Shimbusha’ newspaper, has devised a ‘green’ newspaper initiative meaning that people can plant the paper wherever it ends up.

Why Was It Invented?

If you have been to a city centre in the last few months you have probably noticed newspapers strewn across bus seats and train carriages, some maybe even being blown across streets and pavements. As a way of tidying their cities and towns, alongside helping the environment, The Green Newspaper by the Japanese Daily was invented.

Originally published for ‘Greenery Day’ on May 4th 2016, the special edition solely dedicated its pages to environmental news and was printed on 100% biodegradable paper with plant-based inks. Seeds were embedded within each of its pages that, once planted, would grow into flowers to attract butterflies and other pollinators. Some copies could even grow herbs to eat! The newspapers contained instructions to whoever picked up the papers; to tear the used and discarded newspapers into smaller pieces and plant them in soil. Seeing as branding is 185% stronger in print advertising than digital [Newswoks, Print vs Digital Advertising, 2020], adding plantable pages to the mix makes the printed word even more appealing.

©Ono Yoshinaka

Who Invented It?

The concept was originally invented by Dentsu Inc, one of Japan’s largest advertising agencies, which works with The Mainichi, publisher of The Japanese Daily. Environmental sustainability is the core value and main topic of the publisher. In fact, their mission states that “The Mainichi doesn’t take action only through information, but also by solving global issues.”

Has It Been Successful?

The Green Newspaper isn’t the first environmental initiative to be undertaken by the Japanese Daily. They have built their reputation through previous advertising campaigns such as a water donations campaign for populations suffering from drought and unsanitary drinking water.

Their eco-friendly newspaper has had huge success. It has a current circulation of over four million copies per day across the country and its revenues are above eighty million yen; this is equivalent to over £500,000.

©Ono Yoshinaka

The initiative has also involved schools as a way of educating children and raising their awareness of current environmental issues and teaching the next generation the importance of recycling.

©Ono Yoshinaka

The Plantable Trend

It’s not just The Japanese Daily that are hopping on the bandwagon when it comes to sustainable planting initiatives. With a recycling rate of 74% in Europe, new and innovative ways of recycling have been becoming increasingly more popular. [CEPI, 2020]

Plantable greetings cards are becoming progressively more common in most stationary shops and supermarkets. Businesses are even starting to create promotional materials such as seed sticks and plantable papers for business cards, leaflets and flyers.

©M.Dörr & M.Frommherz

How Is Seed Paper Made?

Paper that can be planted isn’t new news. It’s a slow-growing trend that has been on the cards for some time now. It is a simple mix of recycled paper, water and small flower or herb seeds. Something that you can make at home yourself if you don’t mind getting a little messy. Here are the 6 main steps to help you make your own seed paper:

  1. Gather your paper of choice, tear it up and pop it in a blender
    Recyclable paper is best. (Newspaper, egg cartons, tissue paper, paper bags, printer paper etc.) When you have these to hand, simply tear up your papers into small pieces and pop them in to the halfway point of your blender.
  2. Pour your warm water into your blender up to the fill line
    When you have ensured the lid is on tight, turn on your blender to a low setting and leave it on for about 30 seconds. Once you have done this, there should be no visible chunks of paper remaining. If there is still visbale chuncks of paper, keep blending till there aren’t any.
  3. Stir the seeds in
    Take your seeds and sprinkle a teaspoon of them into your mixture. Do not blend them in, only stir, as this would damage them. TIP: Wildflower seeds are the most adaptable seeds that are a great fit for seed paper as they will grow in most terrain.
  4. Strain the mixture
    Pour your mixture into a strainer; the aim is to get rid of as much water as possible. TIP: We recommend using a spoon or a spatula to press the mixture against the strainer to squeeze the water out.
  5. Spread, flatten and dry
    Lay out a microfibre towel, flannel or cloth on a flat surface. Spoon your mixture out onto the fabric and spread it into any shape you’d like. TIP: Spread the mix as thin as possible to make sure it dries quickly. You can sponge off the remaining moisture, turning the pulp over and repeating this will also make sure you have an evenly dried paper.
  6. Use and plant
    Once your pulp is dry, its time to create and plant! You can use it for cards, invitations and even gift tags. Now that you have your seed paper, you can rest easy knowing that no matter where it ends up, it will one day grow flowers for everyone to enjoy.

So next time you pick up a newspaper or happen to see one on your journey, take it home and recycle it into something new. And if you have a family event, birthday or any other occasion, why not invest in a plantable card knowing that you’ll be giving back to the planet, one page at a time.

The Paper Fact File

Paper is one of the most sustainable and recycled materials in the world!

Visit the Paper Fact File to discover the facts about paper’s sustainable attributes. Some might surprise you!