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Sprout ... a living plant from a dying pencil

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September 11, 2012

Sprout is the name of a new brand of pencil which comes with a seed in the end – when the ...

Sprout is the name of a new brand of pencil which comes with a seed in the end – when the pencil has reached the end of its usefulness, the stub can be planted in soil

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We live in a throwaway society, where even large and expensive products are merely trashed when they reach the end of their life and/or usefulness. It's a rather sad state of affairs, with waste that could be recycled or reused extensively placed in the ground to rot ... or, in the case of non-biodegradable materials, not rot. It's against this rather depressing backdrop that one group of product designers have created Sprout, an ordinary, everyday pencil which hides a rather special trick up its sleeve.

Sprout is at first glance just another wooden pencil. Not that there's anything wrong with wooden pencils; they're still the writing and drawing implement of choice for many people who appreciate the tactile feel and innate naturalness they possess. This particular one is made from Ticonderoga cedar, but features no eraser. Instead, the non-writing end of Sprout houses seeds.

The idea is that once the pencil has been used and sharpened multiple times until it's nothing more than a stub, it gets planted in a small container of soil and watered. The capsule at the end of the pencil contains three seeds of the plant of the user's choosing – there are 22 variants at present, including basil, eggplant, marigold, radish, and tomato – which will then hopefully germinate.

An illustration showing the whole process from pencil to plant
An illustration showing the whole process from pencil to plant

The seed capsule dissolves after several waterings, and once the plant has embedded itself in the soil the pencil can either be removed or used as a place marker. Given the right conditions and enough love and attention, the seed will blossom into a full-sized plant. What was once nothing more than a pencil stub fit to be thrown away will have produced a living organism capable of brightening up an office or garnishing a salad.

Over 100 Sprout pencils have currently been assembled by hand, but an ongoing Kickstarter campaign – accompanying video embedded below – is seeking to raise US$25,000 for a full production run. Pledging $5 or more secures you at least one Sprout pencil, and the chance to reconnect with nature in a very small way.

Greenbutts cigarette filters hold a similar promise, but using a pencil is perhaps preferable to smoking.

Source: Kickstarter

About the Author
Dave Parrack Dave is a technology journalist with a ravenous appetite for gadgets, gizmos, and gubbins. He's based in the U.K., and from his center of operations writes about all facets of modern and future technology. He has learned more in his five years writing for the Web than he did in 11 years at school, and with none of the boring subjects thrown in to the mix.   All articles by Dave Parrack
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5 Comments

The idea would suit cigarette butts more so then pencils. Pencils contain lead and the actual vessel would contain a Bactria which eats the vessel rather then have it stick around. As most things of the disposable nature end up on the street then in storm drains, aids to our water would be of a more rewarding thing? then weeds which would take over the foot paths. A complete rethink of chewing gum and such things of the disposable nature.

Richardf
11th September, 2012 @ 01:31 pm PDT

@Richardf

The pencil "lead" is actually graphite.

Bryant Drake
11th September, 2012 @ 02:48 pm PDT

It would be nice to see flower pots instead of bins

pointyup
11th September, 2012 @ 11:14 pm PDT

Ah yes, because pencil stubs are such a significant environmental problem.

I'm just wondering how that seed will taste when I chew on the end of the pencil...

PatrikD
12th September, 2012 @ 10:57 am PDT

A good way to preserve special plant collections rare and endangered and heirloom ag seeds

Anton Christopher McInerney
13th September, 2012 @ 06:21 pm PDT
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