Tree Book Tree: Really Recycle A Book

Yet another idea in the vein of BitSeeds and “Forest in the city”, making a concrete and personal connection between forests and individual people, to help us try to behave intelligently and keep our life support system operating.

Tree Book Tree from Pequeño Editor in Buenos Aires is “The first book that can be planted after it is read.” (I’ll take their word that it is “the first”.)

Technically, this is extremely primitive. Hand made, eco friendly paper an dink. The “first” is to deliberately embed seeds into the paper, so the book can be buried, watered, and then it will grow into a tree—to replace the trees used to create the book.

The target audience is children, and the first story published is a new printing of “Mi papá estuvo en la selva” by Gusti and Anne Decis. Other titles are to follow.

This is kind of cool, though the reasoning underlying it quickly run aground.

I’m happy to have kids learn that books come from trees, and its great for kids to learn to nurture plants. You don’t really have to plant the actual book, though—we’ve been planting seeds with kids the old way for a long time. And you don’t really want kids to bury all your books in the yard. Not good for the books, yard, or ecosystem.

I also note that I’m certainly going to run out of space for my own forest. I read far too many books to have any place to replant trees. Any practical solution has to be global, not personal.

This project is also technologically backward looking. Teaching kids about trees and paper is kind of irrelevant when they will be reading from electronic screens more than paper. These screens have their own serious ecological problems, which have nothing to do with trees and can’t be solved by burying the dead device.

In some ways, teaching kids to treasure hand made books is really a bad idea. This teaches that books are rare and hard to make. And expensive. We really want kids to learn that information is abundant, and accessible in many ways.

Still, as a teaching exercise, this is kind of cool. Imagine combining it with something like “Forest in the City” and BitSeeds: The book is linked to your own heartbeat, and purchased through digital tokens that sustain reforestation.

When you plant the seeds of your tree an app connects you to a digital tree that joins the world wide “forest” of other people planting trees. If you pay BitSeeds when you buy the book (which triggers tree planting elsewhere), then you get some BitSeeds coins back when you plant your own tree.

The idea here is to create a web of connections between your own actions and forests and trees and ecosystems. Ultimately, one person, one book, one tree is just not the right formula. Many people, many books, the whole planet; that is the game we want to play, no?

  1. Gusti and Anne Decis, Mi papá estuvo en la selva (Libro Arbol), Buenos Aires, Pequeno Editor, 2015.


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