By Mike Pomranz
Updated November 05, 2015
Credit: Courtesy of Sprout World

It’s a frustration we can all relate to from our school days: the annoyance of trying to write with a barely usable stub of a pencil. But at the same time, throwing a pencil out can be a tough choice too. A pencil is never really “dead,” it just sharpened to the point where using it isn’t practical anymore. Throwing it out is kind of like euthanizing a school supply.

Sprout World wants to take the trauma out of tossing pencils away and give those stubs a second life in the process. The Danish-based company that has recently opened an office in the US makes “Sprout Pencils” – otherwise fully-functional cedar pencils (made in Pine City, Minnesota, no less) that replace the eraser with a biodegradable capsule filled with a mixture of seeds and peat. Once the writing utensil’s work scrawling SAT essays is through, simply place it point-side up into some soil and let the seeds go to work. As an additional bit of functionality, the pencil serves as a marker of where your seeds are planted.

Sprout Pencils comes in 14 different varieties, including tomatoes, lavender, basil, sunflowers and green peppers. At $19.95 for an eight pack, the price is definitely higher than a good ol’ Dixon Ticonderoga – but Sprout World CEO Michael Stausholm says they’re working towards bringing down the price. And the cost certainly isn’t prohibitive: His company is selling an average of 450,000 pencils a month.

“We know we can't save the planet just with our products,” Stausholm told CNN. “Our mission is to at least educate people on how to be more conscious in what they buy and look for products that are reusable.”

Reusable pencils that can grow into dinner are definitely a cool concept. Next up, maybe someone will develop a reusable gluestick. I’ve got about 500 of those from the early ‘90s I still have no idea what to do with.