What if pencils could grow? What if instead of throwing your pencils stubs away when they’re too short to use, you could plant them, add some water and watch them grow?
That was the idea on the lead-tip of the pencils of democratech—a group of MIT designers and engineers—which led them to create ‘Sprout’.
‘Sprout’ is a high-quality, cedar-body pencil with a seed capsule on the end—instead of an eraser.
When it becomes too short to use, users can plant it capsule-side down, to the depth line, and water it to grow herbs, flowers or vegetables.
The seed capsule contains three seeds and is water activated—watering it a few times dissolves the protective capsule and starts the seed’s germination.
After a week, the seed within the pencil would usually sprout, into various plants, such as: basil, cherry tomato, dill, eggplant, forget me not, green pepper, jalapeño, morning glory, mint, marigold, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme and tomato.
The pencil shaft can also be kept in the soil as a label planting marker.
But why choose a wooden pencil over a mechanical pencil for such purposes? Democratech feels that mechanical pencils can’t match the tactile feel of wooden pencils.
“Getting up to sharpen them forces us to take a break and look around, a great way to reconnect during a long problem set,” they write.
On top of that, a pencil with an eraser would have been a mistake, and be ‘in the way’ of the seeds.
“Sprout doesn’t have an eraser because we don’t believe in making mistakes,” the group wrote. “We’ve never been happy with the stock erasers on pencils, they tend to be too small and low quality. We want every part of using Sprout to be fun, so instead of sacrificing overall quality (and adding cost and complexity) by grafting on an eraser, we scrapped it entirely.”