Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the brick-and-mortar shopping of the holidays, there are probably more boxes floating around your home than usual. Cardboard is recyclable (in fact, 88 percent of all cardboard boxes in the United States were recycled in 2017), but there are creative ways to reuse cardboard, too.
One of those ways: handmade seed paper. If you’ve ever wondered how to make your own paper, this is a great, easy project. The seed paper makes nice gift cards, too—flower seeds are enmeshed in the handmade paper, so your card recipient can plant the paper and have a new “gift” when the seeds sprout. (Yet another reason that cardboard is sustainable: It’s biodegradable.)
Use the seed paper to make your own holiday cards, ornaments to hang on the tree and then plant in the spring, place cards for special holiday dinners—or, for people who are known for sending out greeting cards of their own, a bundle of them as a gift to share with others.
Make Your Own Seed Paper
Cardboard and paper (about 1 cup of torn material for each card)
Flower seeds (about 1/8 teaspoon for each card—or just use what you have)
Wax paper or strainer
Absorbent material, like terry cloth or a microfiber towel
Blank cardstock cards and envelopes
Ribbon or other decorations, if desired
*adult supervision required
- Tear or cut the cardboard and recycled paper into small pieces. If you have a paper shredder, use that for the paper.
- Put the torn cardboard and paper in a large bowl. Pour enough water into the bowl so that the cardboard is just covered. Soak overnight, stirring occasionally.
- Pour the mixture into the blender. Blend on low speed for 10 seconds, slowly adding water if necessary to create a texture like a thick soup. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds or until the cardboard has been thoroughly blended and no pieces are visible.
- Pour the mixture back into the large bowl. Sprinkle the flower seeds over the mixture and stir them in with a rubber spatula. (Don’t put the seeds into the blender—they need to remain intact for them to grow.)
- Spread the mixture out on wax paper over a towel. Use a spatula or your hands to flatten. Dab with a sponge to strain as much water as possible. (Not pictured: You can also use a strainer or a screen to remove excess water.)
- Drape the towel (or fabric) on a flat surface. Place a small amount of the strained pulp directly onto the towel. Shape with your fingers or with a cookie cutter. If you use a cookie cutter, spread the pulp to the edges with your fingers.
- Press the shaped pulp firmly with a sponge to soak up more water. Repeat to make as many shapes as you like.
- Allow the shapes to dry completely by repeatedly turning them over. Make sure both sides are dry before continuing.
- Glue onto blank cards, taking care to dab glue on just a few points so as not to smother the seeds, and decorate with ribbon if desired.
- Alternative option: If you prefer a more ungroomed look, make larger sheets of seed paper and tear them into shapes by hand.