True love is to romance what a garden is to a bouquet. A bouquet puts on a grand show for a brief time but isn’t made to last. With consistent effort and dedication, a garden steadily grows into something beautiful that’s in it for the long haul, through rough weather and changing seasons.
Why then, do we celebrate love with gifts that offer no more than a momentary thrill before fading away, or worse yet, make the most toxic kinds of long term commitment? The roughly 250 million roses produced each year for Valentine’s Day barely last a week before wilting. The 145 million Valentine cards exchanged each year in America will presumably end up in the garbage within a matter of days, and, in turn, will contribute to the roughly 17.2 million tons of paper waste that ends up in landfills every year. The lasting effects of chocolates and candies go without saying, yet we still consume roughly 58 million pounds of it every February.
As it turns out, there is another option for Valentine’s Day that honors all of these gifting traditions, one that sticks around long after the rush of the holiday is over, and one that gives more to its recipient, and to the environment, than it takes away.
Plantable hearts are cutouts made from paper that are biodegradable and embedded with seeds. They are designed to be planted in soil, wherein the paper breaks down, releasing the seeds and helping to germinate them. After one to six weeks of proper care, they dissolve completely and wildflowers bloom in their stead.
Among the most common wildflower seeds embedded in plantable hearts are perennials such as black-eyed Susans, and annuals like snapdragon, catchfly, clarkia, sweet alyssum, and bird’s eye. Seeds are usually mixed within each heart card to ensure that at least one of the varieties will bloom regardless of region or climate.
Many companies employ local paper mills to manufacture their seed paper, which usually consists of post-industrial, post-consumer, and/or post-recycled materials. Water-based dyes and vegetable-based pigments are commonly used for coloring and lettering in order to minimize residue left in the soil. Similar care is taken to ensure the product’s wrapping materials are just as gentle, with many companies opting for corn-based packaging or biodegradable cello bags.
Plantable hearts come in a variety of sizes, from larger singles sold individually to bunches of 250 mini hearts which make a pleasant alternative to confetti at weddings. There are a number of options to customize hearts with names, dates, and personalized messages, making them a fitting option for memorial cards at wakes and funerals, like those offered by Botanical Paperworks.
For those who still want to give or receive the traditional candy and flowers on Valentine’s Day, Paper Sprouts provides the best possible solution. They offer seed paper flowers fashioned into bouquets, and seed bombs fashioned to look just like a box of chocolates. They even have seed bomb donuts which grow into fresh, healthy herbs.
A plantable paper craft is a refreshing way to help celebrate Valentine’s Day, birthday, wedding, holidays, or any other day of significance throughout the year. And the flowers that spring up from them commemorate all the ordinary days in between.
-Image of plantable seed cards via Etsy