Yes, seed paper as an alternative will always be a more sustainable option than traditional paper.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that all seed paper is good for the environment and understanding how your paper affects our natural world should be a key concern for all of us.
Seed paper seems like an ecological revolution just waiting to happen but why hasn’t it taken off so far. The answer is more complex than you think and seed paper is produced in a vast range of ways, some more planet-friendly than others.
Let’s take a closer look at the manufacturing processes of seed paper and find out if/which seed paper is good for the environment.
What is seed paper
To put it simply seed paper often referred to as plantable paper, is a form of paper embedded with seeds. The thickness, seeds within and materials used can vary greatly across the industry.
We’ve separated these production methods into three clear processes and analysed their impact (positive or negative) on the environment:
- Handmade seed paper
- FSC certified seed paper
- Cotton seed paper
Handmade seed paper
Handmade seed paper is produced using 100% recycled paper. This can come in the form of newspapers, printing paper, marketing materials or any forms of paper that do not have a layer of lamination.
The suitable paper will be blended with paper to create a pulp. The pulp is mixed with seeds and portioned out into mould and deckles (large wooden frames with a sieve to drain excess water).
The pulp is flattened out to achieve the required thickness or GSM of each sheet. This will then be left to dry with a combination of sun and drainage from the mould and deckle’s sieve.
The main environmental concern when producing this paper is simply the use of water. To achieve a suitable pulp, the recycled paper must be mixed with large amounts of fresh, clean water.
While some water will be reused lots of moisture will be lost during the drying process leading to an impact on the planet. Despite this wastage of water handmade seed paper is undoubtedly the most environmentally friendly method of manufacture.
FSC certified seed paper
Unlike handmade paper, FSC certified seed paper uses virgin trees to create pulp for the paper. It’s worth noting that these are FSC certified logging practices but never the less it is arguably less sustainable than using 100% recycled paper.
Chopping down trees is a necessity in our modern age, ensuring your doing it in ethical, sustainable ways is a personal responsibility.
At UK Seed Paper we will never work with any manufacturers of wood pulp seed paper who cannot provide a genuine FCS certificate. This indicates clear conformity to responsible forest practices that allow timber to repair and regrow itself in between cuts.
Cotton seed paper
Some seed paper is produced using cotton fibres as opposed to the wood pulp or recycled paper. Our personal experience with cotton paper is the fibres within can hamper germination so it is a form of paper we avoid.
In terms of its environmental impact cotton seed paper is varied. Manufacturers can opt to use old clothes and materials which is a planet-friendly option but does require the sourcing of material.
Some producers are known to use virgin cotton in their plantable paper. Cotton production is not particularly environmentally friendly. Large swathes of wild areas and habitats are often cleared to make way for large commercial cotton fields.
Handmade seed paper using 100% recycled paper materials is without a doubt the most environmentally friendly method to produce plantable paper.
It’s really important to note that we have been looking at the production process and its environmental impact. The seeds embedded within all these papers do have the opportunity to offset some of their environmental impacts simply by being planted and grown.
So if you’re looking to stay environmentally friendly always opt for handmade seep paper but most importantly, make sure you plant it!