What’s better than recycling a cardboard box? Using it to grow flowers, of course. Plantable packaging is a new, genius concept that’s hitting retail shelves. Here’s how it works: cardboard boxes that house cosmetics and soaps are embedded with flower or herb seeds. Just soak the box in water, plant it in a pot or garden and — voila! — a few weeks later you have a sweet basil plant.

Pangea Organics has incorporated this technology into its 100-percent post-consumer recycled packaging for its soap and facial care products, and Cargo uses it in its PlantLove lipstick boxes, which come peppered with wildflower seeds (as an added eco-bonus, the lipstick tubes are made from a biodegradable corn-based polymer). Now, if only someone could figure out how to turn Styrofoam into a fern …

Story by Lisa Stasiulewicz. This article originally appeared in Plenty in April 2007. This story was added to MNN.com in July 2009.

Copyright Environ Press 2007.