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Expert gardener shares 'brilliant' hack to make use of old newspapers: 'Our parents and grandparents did this'

"What a great way to upcycle!"

"What a great way to upcycle!"

Tired of spending money on plastic seed starters? This simple hack using old newspapers will have you saving cash and the planet in no time.

The scoop

Cooking and gardening influencer TheGardeningChef (@ryanthejoseph) recently shared a clever trick for upcycling newspapers into DIY seed starters.

@ryanthejoseph here's what I'm doing with my newspaper hoard.... I mean collection! #zone6b #gardeninghacks #gardening101 #gardening #gardentok #gardentiktok #GardenWars2024 #recycledpaper #recycling #gardenhumor #seedstarting #origami ♬ Spindlelegs - Cedric King Palmer

In the video, Ryan demonstrates how to origami-fold sheets of newspaper into tiny pots perfect for starting seeds or up-potting seedlings.

"Now, you've got a little seed starter, or something you can up pot your seed starts into that you can transfer right into the ground and try to eliminate some of that transfer shock," Ryan explains, as he folds the newspaper into a handy little pot.

When you're ready to move the seedlings outdoors, you can plant the whole pot in the ground. The newspaper will decompose naturally.

How it's working

This hack is a win-win for your wallet and the environment. Rather than shelling out cash for plastic pots and trays, you can repurpose old newspapers destined for the recycling bin.

A pack of 50 plastic seed starter cells costs around $10. If you start a modest vegetable and herb garden each spring, those costs add up year after year. But this free, eco-friendly alternative puts money back in your pocket for more seeds or other garden needs.

What's more, by choosing biodegradable paper over plastic, you're keeping non-recyclable waste out of landfills. The world produces over 350 million tons of plastic each year, much of which ends up in the trash. When you opt for a plantable paper pot, you avoid adding to that immense waste stream.

As the paper breaks down in the soil, it also improves the earth by adding nutrients and organic matter. So, you're not just avoiding plastic — you're feeding your garden and combating carbon pollution in the atmosphere. How's that for a superhero starter pot?

What people are saying

Green thumbs on TikTok are loving this sustainable seed-starting tip. Comments are pouring in praising the idea.

"This is brilliant," one user praised. "Thanks for the slowed down step by step."

"What a great way to upcycle!" exclaimed another.

A third TikTok user shared their family's history with newspaper-based starter pots: "This is a great idea!! Our parents and grandparents did this. I think we will go back to this method! Starter pots are so expensive now! Recycle!"

Folding up a few sheets of newspaper is all it takes to get your garden growing while shrinking your carbon footprint. That's a tiny change we can all dig.

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