The hustle and bustle of today’s modern society brings with it the need for a wide array of disposable consumer products. From plastic water bottles to disposable grocery bags, our day to day world is designed to be as efficient as possible especially for those of us who live in the “now”. It is certainly not uncommon that many of us are so rushed we often forget to think about tomorrow. With the need to recycle, protect and sustain our environment becoming more and more evident, there are items available that can provide a solution. Items that have the potential to give us the best of both worlds. In fact some of these are disposable items which can be utilized for today, and then recycled and reused to help sustain and protect our world for future generations.
Three students decided to challenge themselves by designing a sustainable eco-friendly office product to help with the preservation of the environment. This in turn gave birth to the sprout pencil. When you use your pencil all the way down to the stub, what do you do with the part that is too small to write with? The obvious answer is to toss it in the trash. Surprisingly, around 15 billion pencils are manufactured each year which ends up generating a significant amount of waste. In 2012, three students from MIT created an alternative product to tackle this dilemma. Called the Sprout Pencil, this simple tool used for writing also doubles as a plant. How does it work? Instead of an eraser at the end, the wooden pencil has a biodegradable capsule which contains a mixture of seeds and dirt.
Once the pencil becomes too small to handle and write with, the remainder can be placed in a pot of soil to grow one of 14 different plant varieties including lavender, sunflowers, basil, tomatoes, green pepper and much more. Once the pencil is retired from its original use, it literally becomes something else in the form of new life. During the spring of 2013, 70,000 of these eco-friendly pencils were sold in Denmark. In 2014 over a million pencils were sold in Europe with numbers continuing to be on the rise. Today, Sprout World proudly sells more than 450,000 pencils a month across 60 countries.
Now, the executives at Sprout World want to embrace sustainability in the American market. The cost of eight pencils is $19.95, and the executives at Sprout World are hoping to lower prices so that everyone can benefit. While it may be impossible to save the world with just one product, the mission at Sprout is to educate the population and develop awareness about what products are available for purchase and encourage the purchase of products that are reusable. Sprout is developing new products that are marketed to the “use once and toss away” culture of today. Sprout currently has products available including pencils, paper and stickers that can create new life once the original purpose of the product has been fulfilled instead of immediately ending up in your local landfill!