Businesses have now increasingly begun to use alternatives to regular paper — and seed paper has become a top contender. Seed paper is a plantable paper alternative made by mixing seeds and recycled papers. From self-made to store-bought, this material has been used to make paper products such as business cards, coupons, envelopes, brochures, postcards and much more. 

And the total cost? Less than a dollar for each seed pack, and you can use paper from your own recycling bin. 

Entire businesses have been founded on the concept of seed paper alone. Seedlings, for example, is a boutique stationery line that offers their own seed paper embedded with wildflower seeds. Their cards, beautifully designed for all occasions, are an eco-friendly alternative to your typical Hallmark cards.

But seed paper is not just limited to small, crafty businesses. One of the larger businesses that have used seed paper is Starbucks, who made bright pink, gift-card holders out of seed paper.

Seed paper is a unique way to integrate sustainability into your business. 

Certainly, the biggest parallel can’t be ignored: seed paper can lead to the growth of a beautiful flower — just as you’re trying to grow your business. This symbolic concept of growth is really driven home when you use seed paper, and is a fun and environmentally-friendly way to promote your company. 

For eco-friendly and eco-conscious businesses, seed paper is also an important way to say, “We put our money where our mouth is.” Customers tend to look for businesses that not just vocally support green businesses policies, but also take initiative when it comes to them (and not just engaging in greenwashing). 

Botanical PaperWorks examines a case study of a business using seed paper at an exhibition to communicate their sustainability mission to “partner with the consumer in contributing to the sustainability of our planet.” Seed paper was used for coupons that the business handed out at their booth — and the seed paper promotion ended up generating record sales and leads for the business. 

That’s the power of an innovative eco alternative like seed paper. But more importantly, that’s the result of encouraging positive eco actions and standing out. 

What are the eco impacts of seed paper? 

Seed paper is biodegradable, and literally zero-waste (in fact, you can call it negative-waste — you get a pretty flower in the end!). Zero waste means there is no waste material, or trash, as a result of using your product. 

Seed paper is also inherently very sustainable, since it doesn’t require any new trees to be cut down and destroyed.

That fact by itself makes seed paper avoid the many environmental effects associated with paper production (including deforestation). There’s also no need for bleach or chemicals needed to dye the paper, which both helps to reduce the amounts of energy and water used, as well as reduce air pollution and waste production. 

Not to mention — the paper industry is the fifth largest consumer of energy in the world, using up to 4 percent of the world’s energy. 

If you end up buying seed paper online, you’ll notice a number of companies each selling different types of seed papers. So how do you pick? 

First, take a look at what type of seeds are in the paper. It’s important to make sure that the seeds are non-invasive to your region. Non-invasive means the plants won’t compete and harm the existing plants in your geographic area or garden.

You’ll usually find a pretty diverse mix of flowers and plants that have been vetted such that the plants will grow well across different types of soils and environments without being dangerous. Also, check to see if the seeds are genetically-modified, if that’s a concern for you.

Of course, the other (and cheaper) option is just to go ahead and make seed paper on your own. 

So — how do I make seed paper then? 

Good question. There are a couple different methods available, as touted by NASA, the Spruce Crafts, and Nature’s Seed.  But it all boils down to a few simple steps that I’ve outlined below. 

1) Find some paper that you won’t need. 

This can include old copies of newspapers, paper grocery bags, tissue paper (or if you’re about to finish up the school year — go ahead and take all those assignments and notes that you were about to burn anyways). 

2) Tear up the paper into small pieces

Small enough so that they can fit into your blender) once you’ve got a decent amount that you can use to make the pulp

3) Throw those scraps of paper into a blender and fill it up halfway.

4)  Add some warm water and fill it to the top of your blender. 

5) Blend the paper until there are no more lumps in it, and you’re left with your paper pulp. 

6) Now — here comes the fun part. Add a sprinkle of seeds to the pulp. 

These can be seeds from your mother’s favorite flowers, or vegetable seeds, or random seeds you bought from the store (it’s ok; we don’t all have to be plant aficionados). 

7) Once you add the seeds, slowly pat them into the pulp 

Don’t blend them! The seeds will be blended into literal non-existence and you won’t get any flowers!

8) Strain the mixture and try to remove any excess water. 

9) Afterwards, you can shape the pulp into whatever you want

— business cards, thank you cards or even just a giant sheet of paper if you don’t know yet. The key is making sure you have a thin layer of pulp so it dries quicker. 

10) Let the paper dry for about a day

And if necessary, you can flatten it out afterwards with a book. 

Once you’ve made the paper, you can use it for shipping material, unique business cards, or even as products themselves. Seed paper has been used to create thank you notes, plantable confetti, or even as a more sustainable package filling material. One of my favorite ways to use seed paper is to write a plantable thank you note to your customer. 

When the customer is ready to get rid of the note, they can head out to their garden and place it on top of some soil and add a tad of water. (Now, if you’re feeling extra fancy, you can encourage your customers to go ahead and place it on a pot and add to that ever-growing plant collection).

Eventually, the paper will compost and degrade away, the seeds will begin to grow and blossom, and all that’s left are the plants and flowers. 

And there you have it –  seed paper to grow your business — and some lovely flowers along the way.

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