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Plant these pencils and watch them grow

Sprout pencils

Sprout World CEO Michael Stausholm grows a garden from Sprout pencils.

(Sprout World)

As more consumers strive for waste-free living, designers are coming up with creative products to help minimize our carbon footprint.

Today’s sustainable furniture and green home goods can be found online, in brick-and-mortar stores — even in college classrooms. In 2012, three mechanical engineering students at MIT conceived a pencil that when planted, would grow into an herb, vegetable or flower plant.

Here’s how the Sprout pencil works: When the pencil becomes too short to write with, plant it at a slight angle in a container of soil.  A dissolvable seed capsule at the end of the pencil will  germinate in a few weeks, transforming the pencil into one of 12 edible plants such as basil, cherry tomatoes, calendula or marigold. Simply water, fertilize and transplant it like any sprout. 

Two years after its initial design, the pencil was purchased by Sprout Europe after Chief Executive Michael Stausholm spotted the product on the online crowd-funding platform Kickstarter.

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Sprout produced 1.7 million of these pencils last year that were made from only 10 trees, he said.

“We believe the success of our products, especially the Sprout pencil, is owed to an increasing awareness among general consumers who are looking to companies and products that focus 100% on sustainability,” Stausholm said. “We know that California has experienced an extended drought, which is why we are considering a new Sprout pencil variety with California Golden Poppy seeds, as this flower is extremely sturdy, drought-tolerant and beautiful." 

Sprout pencils are available as traditional pencils with graphite and clay in place of lead, and as colored pencils.

Sprout also sells Tiny Gardens, small waterproof garden boxes made out of recycled cardboard with hemp mats instead of soil. Tiny Gardens come in five versions: basil, broccoli, cress, radish and sunflower. Just place them in a window and watch them grow.

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And with Father’s Day in mind, Sprout World will unveil the chili knockout edition in mid-April with three chile plants: strong, stronger and strongest.

A three-pack of herbs starts at $7. Available at Sproutworld.com, Whole Foods and Amazon.

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Inspiration — and tips — for drought gardening


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