Zero Waste Week: Making plantable paper from paper

20150907_214204 dream lived greener

Before realizing it was Zero Waste Week, I took it upon myself to make my own paper, just to see if I could. Now that I know it’s Zero Waste Week, I figured what better way to honour it. I recently photographed a wedding where the bride and groom had chosen place cards that were plantable: they sprout wild flowers when buried in the ground.

And this is how the process of inspiration began:

  1. Sunday I photographed the place card and immediately made a mental note to see where the local printers are so I could have some test printed.
  2. Monday evening, after sourcing a few Canadian printers like Botanical Paperworks (in Winnipeg) I immediately wondered, if I could just make this myself.
  3. An hour later, I was scouring YouTube and came across Paper Alice (video HERE), who explains everything and even sells her own paper-making kit. After realizing she makes her own kit, I wondered if I could make my own.
  4. After immediately jumping out of bed and searching for whatever I had, I found a silkscreen I had kicking around and got out my blender.
  5. Nate had an empty box of plastic wrap that he finished from his tattoo supplies and I had a bunch of scrap paper kicking around that was going to end up in recycling. So I cut it all up, dunked it water and made that ish into paper pulp.
  6. Then I saw this tea bag he had used (from a tea he had bought) and immediately exclaimed that this tea bag wasn’t zero waste because of the staple and the string, but I took it all apart and dumped the contents of the tea bag into the paper pulp. It smelled like maple and green tea. I then added scraps of veggies from the sink, like beets and carrots and kale.
  7. Then I got super excited and reminisced on when I was a kid making paper in school.
  8. Then I mixed it all up and made paper! I won’t get into the process because it was an hour long learning process and so much happiness and frustration happened, but I now have an 8×10 piece of cardstock that can be composted and ready for turning into business cards. I’ve decided I’m going to hand write the few that I’m making rather than print with it, but you can actually send this through the printer.

Things I learned:

  • Depending on the thickness of the paper you want, you may want to use less paper pulp and choose different paper scraps. I wanted mine to be sturdy for business cards so I used cardboard mixed with regular paper. The thickness can also be determined by how much you press down the paper and get the excess water out.
  • If you are trying to make your own kit… you’ll need patience. Paper Alice has been doing this for years so she knows what makes for good paper making. I’ll be putting the rest of my kit together today. I am also an artist so I had half of the kit already on hand.
  • You’ll need patience. Period. I am a bit of a perfectionist so I flattened the pulp perfectly, blotted the water out – but for one piece of paper it takes a lot of time. Seriously – the paper making industry… much respect. And also… not….:
  • It takes a lot of energy to make paper whether recycled or not: A LOT of water, labour resources and time. (See facts HERE). Making paper out of recycled paper means you won’t cut down any more trees, but you’ll also spend more energy. It’s made me think twice about all the paper people use, how much we take for granted that recycling will solve everything when it won’t. We need to be mindful of what we use paper for and how much waste is being produced when we do.
  • Now that I can make my own paper, (as mentioned before in a previous post, I won’t be printing any more cards or buying any more paper), nor will I just immediately send scrap paper to recycling. I’ll be making any paper I choose to create into plantable products using seeds so that there really won’t be any waste left behind – just beautiful flowers and food to eat.

making paper_ dream lived greener

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