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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Recycled Planters

Lesson Description:
Students create their own environmentally friendly planters out of newsprint and glue.

Eco-Fact: In 2007, about 55 million tons of paper were recycled, with a recovery rate of 55 percent. Meaning, 55% of the paper that was recycled could be made into new paper.

  1. Place a can on its side and roll one of the newsprint strips around it. Allow the paper to overlap one inch and cut off the excess. Then place a small dot of glue on the seam. Continue this process until the can is covered. 
  2. Once the can is covered, repeat the same process by placing and gluing a second layer of newsprint around the can, making sure to alternate the newsprint’s placement in order to cover seams. 
  3. A third and final layer can then be applied. 
  4. Gently push the can out of the glued paper pot so that an inch or two of the paper is free.
  5. Then fold and glue the bottom like an envelope, or cut 5 to 6 slits in the paper and fold it inward to make a bottom. 
  6. Carefully remove the can and allow the paper pot to dry. 
  7. Once dry, the paper pots can be used as seed starters and then planted outside. If the planters are absorbing water and drying the plants, keep the planters in a tray with a little water to keep them from drying out as the seeds grow.
Adaptations:  Students can work with partners.
Lesson Type:
  • Experiment
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Gardening

GEF Program Category:
  • Green Thumb Challenge

Time Needed:
30 minutes to construct plus time to dry and plant
Materials Needed:
  • Newsprint, cut into 3 to 3 ½ inch strips 
  • Cans such as ones for tomato juice, sauce etc. 
  • Scissors 
  • Non-toxic glue

School or Group:
Green Education Foundation (GEF)
Contact Email:
Lesson Documents:
application/pdf RecycledPlanters.pdf
Located in: Science | Science | Science | Science

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