Sprout Pencils: Pencils That Can Grow Vegetables Organically

We usually discard pencil stubs that get too short after use. What if instead of throwing it away, we can plant them and turn those pencils into flowers, herbs or even vegetables?

That was what a group of MIT students did, and it’s aptly called the ‘Sprout Eco Pencil’.

The pencil is made of cedar and uses graphite and clay in place of lead and comes in 20 seed variations including mint, tomato, peppers, basil and rosemary that can be planted after the pencil becomes unusable. A seed capsule is fitted to the end of each pencil which then can be planted in soil, and watered to produce a herb and vegetable patch. As the pencil is watered, the capsule dissolves to expose the seeds.


Sprout’s makers Democratech claim that seeds should begin sprouting within a week.

Do note however that if a user spills liquid on the Sprout, or places it in their mouth, the tip will begin to dissolve.

They said: ‘Unfortunately Sprout doesn’t know the difference between accidental and intentional watering, so if you accidentally wet your Sprout it’s time for planting.

‘We’ve worked hard to make a resilient seed capsule, but it’s a tradeoff between resistance to accidental spills and plantability.’

Michael Stausholm from Democratech added: ‘Sprout was designed in a graduate product design course at MIT.

‘It was inspired by the design prompt to make a product for the ‘eco-friendly office of the future.’

‘We wanted to take a product that didn’t get any special attention, the humble pencil and use it as a tool to remind people of the eco-impact they could make.

The eco pencils were crowdfunded via a Kickstart campaign, netting them more than £25,000 in funding. It took the makers three months to create.

The group of students are also looking at ways of matching the colour of the nib with that of its corresponding plants.

Stausholm continued: ‘Sprout Europe launched Sprout pencils in retail in Denmark in June 2013 as the first market globally to test and have been hugely successful with over 100,000 sets sold in a relatively small market.

‘We have seen massive re-ordering from customers, people seem to really love the Sprout and the fact that it has so many practical uses. I also think the fact that it is 100 per cent sustainable and is handmade from only natural materials, makes it more appealing.’

Sprout packets are available here.