Sustainable Design: Growbooks


In an effort to exercise my creativity and explore other means of design, I’m currently collaborating with my sister on a series of Growbooks. The idea behind Growbooks is to create compostable books that can grow plants at the end of their life cycle. Each book will contain a message or a story that conveys how plants grow, the importance of sustainability, etc. And along the way the children will hopefully learn the idea of responsibility and return on investment. If you spend enough time nurturing the plants, maybe it will grow into something that can be beautiful or useful upon harvest.

Now making a compostable book sounds easy, but when you dive deeper into the idea, there are many problems.  For instance, the book becomes less durable, it may fall apart after multiple uses and if the book gets wet from high humidity or a moisture event, there’s a chance the seeds could start sprouting before the user is ready to plant it. So when making something compostable, it really reduces the amount of laminates and types of materials we can use. Furthermore, it’s not just the pages of the book that are important, it’s the binding of the books as well. Some adhesives are not meant to be tossed into the compost pile and furthermore composting has standards. Are we following the industrial composting standards or the at-home composting standards and what really defines these? It’s easy to just type into google and ask, “What can I compost?” But finding a set of protocols to follow is important if you want to create a meaningful product that works for the intended purpose.

Furthermore we’re novices in the children’s book industry. It’s going to take some research to see how to effectively write a story for a certain age group of children and how to self publish a book that’s very different from conventional publishing standards (ie. we have to inject seeds somewhere!). This begs the questions, are we completely making the books ourselves from story creation to material sourcing/possible material production, to printing to binding to assembling to packaging and then to shipping to the consumer? That will break the bank, so we’ll have to determine from a supply chain standpoint what steps during this process can we outsource and/or do ourselves effectively and efficiently? These parameters and customer requirements must be defined.

So I hope to outline my progress on these Growbooks and take you through the development process, sourcing and potential multimedia design we’re using to create a pretty hipster children’s book. So stick around and see what happens.


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