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A sustainable container solution

In a recent Nielsen Company survey, conducted in October of 2018,
81% of global consumers said it was extremely important or very important
for companies to roll-out initiatives to improve the environment.

A Smart Choice

The HC Companies has two sustainable solutions that are designed with the needs of growers, retailers and gardeners in mind – satisfying everyone’s increasing desire to make an environmental impact whenever possible. Benefits include:

  • Made in North America
  • Automation friendly
  • Durable for growing and retail cycles
  • Zero waste – no recycling required
  • Numerous sizes and styles available
  • Certified for Organic Farming (EcoGrow®)

Bringing plants full circle

If you Googled the term “sustainable products”, you’d be given a litany of definitions from those respected in the scientific community to community bloggers – all believing their example best defines the notion. But in truth, Wikipedia provides the clearest, most digestible definition for those unfamiliar with the practice. “Sustainable products are those products that provide environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting public health and environment over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials until the final disposal.”

For the grower, this is an opportunity to bring your plants full circle by utilizing and marketing a series of sustainable fiber growing containers that are also certified for organic farming (EcoGrow® only). This provides those individuals who are predominantly more environmentally conscious with choices, thus securing them as a customer rather than surrendering them to the competition who might already have a sustainable option in their arsenal. (Fiber Round Mum Pan shown)

EcoGrow®

EcoGrow® products are molded using recycled newspaper and a plant-based binding agent. They breathe like clay, providing an optimal environment for root systems and biodegrade quickly when planted or worked into the soil. EcoGrow molded fiber pots have been certified for organic farming and gardening in both the United States and Canada according to NOP Regulation. Click below to learn what makes HC’s EcoGrow containers special, while providing details of trials done by actual growers.

FiberGrow®

FiberGrow® products are molded using a slurry of fibers and binding agents in order to increase their strength and durability in such applications as planters, hanging baskets and other large containers. Available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and styles, FiberGrow products also help insulate root systems to help protect them in fluctuating temperatures while offering superior drainage and moisture retention. A wax coating is available to increase the containers longevity. Want to learn more about our fiber slurries? Click below.

Explore our full line of fiber containers

Growing Containers

Hanging Baskets

Paks & Strips

Check out our blog posts and resources for the fiber market!

Answers to your popular questions

Yes, what’s compostable is also biodegradable. But what’s biodegradable is NOT always compostable. Read more here.

The longevity of our fiber containers depends a great deal on the cultural practices at your greenhouse or growing location. Are your fiber containers sitting on a concrete floor in pools of water with no drainage? What are your irrigation practices and how moist is the soil kept? Are the containers kept outside for long durations of time?

When our fiber containers are used under normal growing conditions, you can expect our EcoGrow containers to last one complete crop cycle, while our FiberGrow containers will last one complete season.

Generally speaking, it will take our EcoGrow containers about one season to fully biodegrade and crumble completely into the soil. The ultimate duration will vary depending on your environmental conditions.

Due to the process in which they’re created, our FiberGrow containers will not biodegrade into the soil the way our EcoGrow products will. However, you can break them up into smaller pieces and use them as additions in your general composting practices for use in gardens and planting beds. These containers can also be included with your municipalities paper recycling program.

White or pale brown fungi/mold is common on the bottoms and sides of fiber containers and are symptoms of excessive watering. While the fungi/mold is not dangerous to the plant, overwatering can eventually lead to root rot and other more damaging conditions.

NOT all sustainable fiber planting containers are created equal. Here are some things to look for before making a purchase for your growing facility.

  • Are they certified for organic farming by a legitimate governing body? And don’t be afraid to ask to see the official documentation. If they’re unwilling to show you, they probably aren’t.
  • How are they produced? Some “environmentally friendly” containers actually expose more harmful toxins into the environment during production than some traditional plastic containers. If they say they’re produced in a water recycling facility thereby eliminating wastewater discharge, that’s a good sign.
  • What materials are the containers made out of? There’s a science behind making a sustainable fiber container for strength and durability. While they might all look the same on the outside, some companies add hardening agents (that are not biodegradable) in order to achieve that strength. Look for products that are molded using recycled newspaper, a plant-based binding agent and water. That’s it!

Molded pulp is “a material typically made from recycled paperboard and/or newsprint” and is a sustainable alternative to polystyrene (EPS), vacuum formed PET and PVC and foams.

Moreover, it is “often considered a sustainable material as defined by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, since it is produced from recycled materials and can be recycled again after its useful life-cycle” ends.

Molded pulp is created by mixing recycled paperboard or newsprint, water, a fungicide to help prevent any mold issues and a binding agent in a giant caldron to produce the fiber slurry needed to shape the molded pulp products.

Molds are then used to help re-form the fiber slurry mixture into a variety of shapes, sizes and applications such as growing containers, hanging baskets, protective packaging, consumer products and more.

Student Growers

“My students enjoyed using your fiber pots for their growing project. The pots held up well and plants grew well in them. The root systems of the plants appeared to be larger and more fibrous than when the same plant was grown in a black plastic pot. Thank you for sharing and providing this opportunity for my students.” – Dr. Helen T. Kraus, an Associate Professor at the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University

FiberGrow® products are molded using a slurry of fibers and binding agents in order to increase their strength and durability in such applications as planters, hanging baskets and other large containers.

How to Make Organic Planting Pots Using Old Newspapers

Introduction: How to Make Organic Planting Pots Using Old Newspapers

This is a great way of making your own organic planting pots. The final product (ie the pots) are great for your small plants, they can be put very tightly together and when the plant is ready to be put into the ground you can plant it with pot still on. The paper will gradually break down in the ground.
On the market there are a few different tools to make this pots, this is an easy way using things you probably already own.

Step 1: What You Need

Newspaper
Bottle
Pair of scissors
Soil
(seed)

Step 2: Basic Cutting

Use your bottle as a guide to see where you should cut the newspaper. I like to cut several pages each time.

Step 3: Wrap the Paper Around the Bottle

As seen in the picture

Step 4: Folding the Bottom of the Pot

Using finger of your choice, fold excess paper towards bottom of bottle. It is useful in this step if bottom of bottle is slightly concave.

Step 5: Flatten the Bottom

Remove pot from bottle. If you look inside the pot the bottom will be raised. Use fingers or knuckles to press bottom flat.

Step 6: Fill With Soil

This is what makes the pot steady. Without soil it will disintegrate in a few second.

Step 7: Final Planting

Plant your seed, water and try to remember which kind of seed in which pot. Or make nice-looking tags.
It is useful to put the pots together as this will create a great climate for growing plants. When you water the plants the water will gradually diffuse into surroundning pots making the maintenance of pots easy.

1 Person Made This Project!

Did you make this project? Share it with us!

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94 Discussions

Just an FYI to everyone finding this after me who is looking for true organic ideas for the garden.

Most newspaper is bleached with hydrogen peroxide, which is quite literally listed as an INorganic peroxide.

It most definitely is not organic.

thank you can you use news papers in a garden

COOL. TY for sharing. I know that I can always count on my “instructables family” to teach me something new. TY

Reply 3 years ago

how do you use newspapers as mulch?

Such a good idea! I used another article online and made paper pots using PVC pieces, but this is even easier.

I am not sure how the true organic gardeners would react to using newspaper to plant seeds in. If the ink in newspaper has soy in it, 90% of the soy grown in the United States is GMO.

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

You can get newspaper end rolls directly from the newspaper publisher with no ink on them.

You can get newspaper end rolls directly from the newspaper publisher with no ink on them.

Very usefulll. will try with my 4 year old today. a we plan to plant some vege seeds today. great job

Thanks for sharing this creative, simple and environment friendly idea

Really like this idea. I’ve always used newspaper as mulch in my garden to keep the weeds down but never thought of this ..Thanks

Okay, Instructables, who ate all of the popsicles? LoL.

Regarding setting pot out into the garden without removing the plant, did your answer mean that if you use just the sheet that you used in the demonstration, that the pot would not harm the growth of the plant?

To prevent drying out, place all your newly potted plants in a tray that allows approximately 20 mm of water to sit in the bottom. If the tray is deeper than about 20mm, drill holes in the sides so it overflows at 20 mm. Your plants will not dry out as they suck up the water from the base tray. You can water directly into the tray.

If you have a tray with holes in it, place a rectanglar piece of heavy plastic inside the tray base before putting your pot plants in the tray. Make sure the water will overflow at about 20 mm so the plant does not get too much water.

We do this with native trees in New Zealand that require watering from underneath. They never dry out. Maybe you could try this.

I’ve been using a whole section of newspaper for each pot. It makes them much sturdier and holds water better, but it is still okay to plant the pot?

Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

It should be fine. Will take longer to decompose and make sure you put drainage holes in the bottom. Most plants, especially tender ones, don’t like to get their feet too wet 🙂

How to Make Organic Planting Pots Using Old Newspapers: This is a great way of making your own organic planting pots. The final product (ie the pots) are great for your small plants, they can be put very tightly together and when the plant is ready to be put into the ground you can plant it with pot stil…