An all-woman-owned Cape Town-based company is not just thinking outside of the box but growing outside of it, too.

Growing Paper is a small business that aims to create more jobs for locals while also offering them a chance to develop their skills in the unique environment of recycled handmade paper that is more eco-friendly than traditional paper.

The paper sheets are embedded with seeds that will grow into flowers or herbs once the product has been used and is planted.

“Job creating and skill development… is central to our belief system; we aim to keep as much of the production process centred on hand labour, enabling us to create very necessary jobs for unskilled and unemployed people, to grow our company into a successful company that contribute to making a change in the environment,” says Co-Owner Charmaine Nolte.

Seed paper labels and gift cards designed by Lize Beekman.

Growing Paper was born when Founder Roxanne Schumann was at a friend’s wedding and couldn’t help but feel bad about all of the beautiful wedding stationary that was going to waste because no one could keep it forever. This thought inspired Schumann to think of ways that paper could be reused, and the idea of seeded paper was born.

After some research, Schumann discovered that seeded paper was already being produced in places like the US and Netherlands and tried her hand at her very own recipe, and it worked.

Experiments took place on Schumann’s family farm in Malmesbury after her friend, Nileta Knoetzen, joined Schumann’s movement and the two purchased second-hand paper-making equipment to start creating.

Since its inception in 2009 Growing Paper has expanded to have four owners and 30 staff members.

A Growing Paper employee making some eco-friendly paper.

Growing Paper’s unique creations are also influenced by the designs of amazing local artists who lend their creative eye in producing one-of-a-kind pieces of art that you’ll love whether they’re for a social occasion or a gift accompaniment.

The company even produced award-winning wine bottle labels for Fairview Wine’s Bloemcool Range, receiving a silver award in the Wine Label Design Competition this year.

“From the start, our labels have been designed by the cool folks at Growing Paper, located near Malmesbury. When we approached owners Roxanne and Nileta, they were very excited to make our concept come to life, and we have been collaborating ever since. The Bloemcool range won a Silver Award in the 2018 Wine Label Design Awards,” said Fairview.

“I think the fact that we are making plantable paper is pretty creative. We are lucky that we create new products with our paper daily. Our range varies from greeting cards, business cards, wedding invites to plantable lanyards. Recently we started producing plantable confetti! We are also very proud of our award winning Bloemcool wine label for Fairview wines,” says Nolte.

A beautiful Protea design on a plantable label by Willie Schlechter.

All of the products are made from waste paper and are processed to produce an environmentally-friendly range of beautiful products.

“Since the papermaking process uses large amounts of water, we reuse our wastewater for farming activities on the farm where our factory are located. Our products are printed with waterbased ink. It’s the seeds that add that extra magic to the cards. Four varieties of seeds, easy-to-grow and small in size, are used – mixed flowers (poppy and alyssum), indigenous flowers (vygie and African daisy), herbs (basil and rocket) and vegetables (carrot and tomato)… to mention but a few seed options. Our favourite thing about our products is that it grows and we are making a small but significant difference in the environment. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,” said American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead.

This proudly-Capetonian innovation shows how the Cape’s residents are striving to make a change for the better no matter how small. After all, even the mightiest of trees starts as a tiny seed.

Check out Growing Paper’s products here. 

Pictures: Supplied

Article written by

Aimee Pace

Aimee is an avid gamer, enthusiastic yogi and animal lover. Addicted to anime, coffee and plant-based meals. Current favourite pastimes include, sewing and learning Japanese.