Unless you’re an avid collector of worn-down pencil stubs, you’ve probably thrown away an alarming number of tiny writing implements over the course of your lifetime. In fact, with 15 billion pencils made around the world every year, we’re getting rid of a ton of baby pencils on a daily basis. But in an effort to create life out of pencil death, Sprout World is producing plantable pencils that turn into tomatoes, lavender, basil, and much more, so that your pencil can do a lot more than write a message — it can feed you, too.
The Denmark-based company actually manufactures its ingenious little pencils in Pine City, Minnesota, where the traditional erasers are replaced with little seeds- and peat-containing capsules. Once your pencil has been worn down to a stub, don’t throw it away — instead, stick it in some dirt, give it some water, and watch it blossom. Michael Stausholm, the CEO of the company, calls the product the perfect example of sustainability, as one “dying product is literally giving life to a new product.”
While Stausholm isn’t actually the mastermind behind the pencils (that credit goes to three MIT students who developed the concept in 2012), he is responsible for their widespread popularity in Europe. After coming across the original Kickstarter campaign behind Sprout World, he partnered with the college kids and asked for permission to sell them in his native Denmark.
“We sold 70,000 pencils in the spring of 2013,” he told CNN. “We realized there was definitely demand for them. Just a year later, a million of these sustainable pencils had been sold across the continent, and now, Stausholm (who has since acquired the rights to the brand and adopted the title of company CEO), claims that Sprout World sells “an average of 450,000 pencils a month and has logged more than $3 million in revenue.”
With 14 different pencil varieties to choose from, $19.95 for a pack of eight seems like quite the deal, considering the multi-functional purpose these pencils will serve. So stick one in the ground and see what happens. Who knew what a pencil could do?