Plantable paper cup serves up seeds with your coffee

A humble coffee cup has big aspirations to become a forest of trees with a Kickstarter that embeds native seeds in a paper cup.

Seed coffee cup
A prototype cup contains a wildflower seed mix. Reduce Reuse Grow

People like to drink coffee. They also like to carry it around with them. Add that to the popularity of coffee shops, both chains and independents, and you end up with tons of disposable coffee cups tossed into the trash each year. Sure, there are recyclable cups available, but an ambitious Kickstarter project from Reduce Reuse Grow wants to improve on that and make coffee cups turn back into trees.

The project is titled "The World's First Plantable Coffee Cup." The campaign's $10,000 goal is aimed at developing a paper cup with native seeds embedded in the material. The idea is to take the cup, unravel it, soak it in water for five minutes and then plant it. The cups could potentially include wildflowers or native seeds geared to grow in specific regions.

This is not a totally new idea. We've already seen plantable wrapping paper with veggie seeds embedded and the Sprout pencil, a writing utensil with a seed instead of an eraser.

The cup is currently in prototype form. In an interesting move, the Kickstarter is more about funding the project's overall development than it is about getting the actual cups into backers' hands right at this moment. You have to move up the $500 (about £324, AU$641) pledge level to reserve one of the first 10 cups expected to be manufactured within the next year if the project is successful.

The funds are earmarked for making commercial production of the cups possible. From there, Reduce Reuse Grow wants to land them in quantity at coffee shops. Caffeine hounds would have the option to plant the cups themselves or turn them in to specially marked recycling bins for Reduce Reuse Grow or another third party to collect and plant on a larger scale for reforestation efforts. If thrown away, the cups are biodegradable.

The project has raised just over $2,000 with 19 days to go. The slow funding may be due in part to the intangible nature of the cups. Most backers won't get the chance to touch one of their own unless manufacturing on a larger scale commences somewhere down the line. It's an admirable idea, but Kickstarter may not end up being the way to make it come true.