Yesterday my Go Green club members and the co-sponsor and I made sheets of plantable paper. We are having a reception next month for anyone who donated materials, money, or time to our courtyard. Its a small group, so we figured sending the invitations on paper made from recycled paper and embedded with seeds would be perfect.
The whole process is easy, and the kids were into it. (I especially loved a few of the faces made. They thought the pulp was gross, but they couldn’t stop playing in it either!) We put blue paint into the pulp (school colors are blue and gold), but we were using red shop rags and they were new…. so things ended up blue/purple/red. Which doesn’t look too bad!
I might have overestimated the amount of pulp required, so I bought more seeds, squeezed a bunch of water out, and then made seed bombs to use as favors for the reception and/or our own use. Those are taking much longer to dry, and I’m keeping fingers crossed that they don’t sprout with all the moisture!
We spread the cuttings from trimming the paper down to postcard size over an empty bed in the courtyard, so we’ll see what happens!
Directions for Plantable Paper
- Shred paper – we used straw wrappers (I had 500 straws to unwrap. don’t ask.) and papers destined for the recycle bin. You can use newsprint, but it will turn out grey because of the ink.
- Soak the shredded paper for an hour to overnight. The longer you soak it the better. Two or three hours is usually plenty. This is really so you don’t kill your blender. Some people dedicate a blender to this purpose. I figure as long as it doesn’t get overworked and its well-cleaned, you’re okay.
- Scoop handfuls of the soaked paper into a blender. Go about halfway, and fill it with enough water to cover. You can add more if it seems to struggle with blending the paper.
- Blend until it looks like oatmeal. (That is, of course, not what the students said it looked like….)
- I pour the pulp into a container of some variety – a rubber maid shallow container works great.
- If you want to color the paper, use water-soluble paint and pour a little in. I recommend using plastic gloves to keep from turning your hands whatever color – but to each their own. Add as much or little paint as you need. Once its where you want it, you can make your paper!
- This is where we did things a little differently. Most people suggest putting your screen into the pulp and then pulling it back up – like panning for gold. We, instead, had a bunch of small screens that we set over empty plastic shoebox containers. We then scooped out pulp onto our screens and spread it around. Once we had the coverage we wanted, the kids started pressing. DO NOT wipe your hands across. You’ll just move around the pulp. Just press gently. If you want, you can lay another screen over the top and press through that.
- Once you have most of the water out, we placed it on a non-terry cloth towel, covered it with a second and pressed some more.
- Then we flipped it out onto cardboard to dry! If I’d had racks, I might have flipped it out on a towel-covered rack.
- Put somewhere warm and let dry overnight! They will curl, but you can always iron them flat again.