Introduction: Plant a Forest Using Un-recyclable Tetrapack Cartons, Payback Some of the Oxygen You Have Used and Give Something to Future Generations.

Picture of Plant a Forest Using Un-recyclable Tetrapack Cartons, Payback Some of the Oxygen You Have Used and Give Something to Future Generations.

Use those un-recyclable tetrapack cartons to plant acorns.
The perfect Christmas gift.

If you start planting oaks now,........

(unless you're really old, infertile, imprisoned or suffer a horrible accident or debilitating disease), will be able to bring your children and grandchildren to sit under and enjoy these trees.

Step 1: Motivation.

Picture of Motivation.

My local Re-cycling facility does not re-cycle tetra-packs,(paper cartons).

I tried to think of a use for them.

To my suprise, I discovered that some of them have an Aluminium lining.

I turned one inside out and it was not unnatractive.

Thus my Christmas plan to give every one a baby oak tree in a recycled pot can now be realised.......

Collect some acorns and a tetrapack.

Step 2: Carton- Cut, Wash and Turn Inside-Out.

Picture of Carton-      Cut, Wash and Turn Inside-Out.



Turn Inside-Out.
(This is tricky but only takes a couple of minutes.)

Punch some holes in the base.

Step 3: Collecting Acorns

Picture of Collecting Acorns

Collecting good acorns is probably the best way to get a good start.

Get them while they are still on the tree.

If other acorns are starting to fall, then give the branch a little shake; if acorns are ready they will drop.

Leave any that have holes in them, it means that someone is inside munching away on the seed.

Plant your acorns in late April.

Step 4: Creating a Future Forest.

Picture of Creating a Future Forest.

Apparently its best not to use garden soil since it may carry diseases.

Use a good quality potting soil mixed with some sand and grit mixed in.

Place the acorn horizontally, barely under the surface. Water until it comes out the bottom and place cups on a southern windowsill.

Check moisture often and don't let the soil get completely dry.

In about three weeks the stalk will be five to six inches and the first set of leaves will have spread. About mid-May it is time to harden the plants off. Gradually increase exposure time to outside sun and air. Set the trees outside during the day and return them to house or garage at night.

Step 5: Planting and Reaping the Rewards.

Picture of Planting and Reaping the Rewards.

You can plant your young oaks in the Autumn or overwinter and plant them the following spring.
To overwinter, keep them in a garage, enclosed porch or cellar at temperatures between 5 to 45 degrees, with 20 to 30 degrees the best.

Don't let temperatures get below zero at the root.

Even in winter, check the moisture level and keep just barely damp.

Water your trees in dry weather and give them a light mulch to retain moisture and keep weeds down.

Remember that oaks will eventually be big trees, so don't plant them too close to buildings or pavements.

As you grow and mature and society falls apart and the sea level rises and oil and fresh water shortages cause yet more conflicts and wars and disease runs rampant as population growth continues unchecked, your trees will be growing and maturing too.

You can enjoy these trees throughout your life and know that future generations will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Some oaks can live as long as 500 years!

Goodluck Humanity.

Step 6: OAK UPDATE August 2009

Picture of OAK UPDATE August 2009

This is the first time that I've grown acorns and, to be honest , I had given up on this batch.

They did not do anything and seemed to go mouldy....
and then one day I was weeding and behind a clump of spinach, I found one growing.

A lovely, lovely oak... so if yours don't do anything, even after 8 months don't give up.. just keep them watered.

I've been reading some of the comments and I just want to make it clear that the invaginated tetrapacks were used for presentation purposes only, (they are a recycled item that looks nice with a plant in it.) any container will do, of course, and its best to take the shoot out of the container before planting outside.

Did anybody who read this successfully grow any oaks?

Best Wishes



nearyjm64 (author)2010-02-16

For anyone who wanted suggestions on different containers... I used 2 liter soft drink bottles.  I cut the top off of the container about 3 inches below the cap.  Then I filled the container with potting soil, with several drainage holes at the bottom.
I started my tree project in the fall.  Before I launched on my endeavor, I collected about 50 acorns from under a large oak tree.  I placed them in a bucket and put about a quarter inch of water in the bottom of the bucket.  Within 2 weeks, many (but not all) of the acorns sprouted a "tap root" about 2 inches long.  This root is what lays the foundation for the oak tree.  I took the acorns that had sprouted a tap root and placed each one in their own separate bottle.  I kept all of the bottles in my shed during the winter and watered them weekly to prevent the soil from drying out.  When transplanting in the spring, take care to not damage the tap root.

i_am_an_awesome_fish (author)2009-12-03

 What a beautiful little tree! I am trying to grow acorns with my pre-school class. We planted some that had already started to sprout, so fingers crossed!

Klaus Baude 123 (author)2008-08-15

Wow...this was inspirational. Too bad I dont ever use Tetra packs. Do you think you could make an instructabl on how to grow trees in other containers?

notker (author)Klaus Baude 1232009-08-10

you can grow it in any type of container/area if it's big enough ideas: shoes,cans,garden;(),neighbours' garden,...,half winebottle;

ronmaggi (author)2009-08-10

The whole turning inside uoy thing seems like it is for aesthetic reasons. If you are using this technique to start a tree nursery, do you still need to turn the carton inside out? Thanks for the i'ble. We go through A LOT of tetra pack cartons!!!

Ariel Kyrou (author)2008-09-22

Dear Friend of Humanity, I don't understand why you say Tetra Pak cartons are "un-recyclable", as they are ?

iraqniphobia (author)Ariel Kyrou2008-12-21

He says in step number 1 that he can't recycle them at his local recycling plant. So for him (and many others who's centers do not recycle them) they might as well be un-recyclable.

polo99a9 (author)2008-09-26

great work. and great idea. I will try this. too bad not to many people do this. good luck.

I_am_Canadian (author)2008-05-21

Im having a lot of trouble turning these inside-out. Any tips? Please? Anyone?

Dear I_am_Canadian, I only used the ones with aluminium foil inside, maybe they are tougher. I did it slowly and gently and evenly, bit by bit. I don't know if this helps you at all , but I assure you that it can be done and should only take a few minutes. Good Luck. FriendOfHumanity.

Ok, Thanks. I have kindof taken up growing Citrus Fruits now. If I can ever get a tetrapack inside-out thought, I will do this.

Nicolas Jara (author)2008-05-11

Hi. I just post to tell my experience about tetrapack. I'm from Chile. Here we have a foundation called "Un techo para Chile". They work giving basic houses to homeless people. The houses are made of tetrapack recycled. The container in the image => is made of tetrapack boxes.
Just a comment, don't misunderstand it. Anyway it's a great Instructable. You have my vote, FriendOfHumanity.

Dear Nicolasjara, That's great news.I was interested enough to look it up and found another link about Tetrapak houses, in the Philippines. My favourite thing of this type is the brick bottle: When Mr.Heineken went to the Caribbean, he saw the amount of discarded bottles and the lack of building materials and tried to solve this It really is worth a look. Anyway its amazing to me that all bottles are not made this way. Best Wishes FriendOfHumanity.

jehan60188 (author)2008-05-06

This is pretty neat; now I just need to start using tetrapacks!

I_am_Canadian (author)2008-05-06

Im doing it. Great work. And I love your name, "freindofhumanity". lol

altomic (author)2008-05-02

really cool idea.

I thought about starting my an "Oak nursery" on my in-laws farm.

Start it now and then when in 50 years when the Oaks are a little bigger (and I need cash) I would sell them.

I thought about containing them in the big poly bags that are used for paper recycling for shops.

Don't know if other countries use them but in australia they are about 1metre*1metre* 1metre.

plant the trees.

set up a solar watering system.

check on them once a year or so.

unfortunately the farm is no longer an option.

this site is a place for dreamers

how do you get an elephant up an oak tree?
-tell it stand on an acorn and wait.

Tamoko2 (author)2008-04-25

What a great idea... Off to search for acorns!

FunkLiberationFront (author)2008-04-25

Great instructable! I hope you will post follow up pictures as the acorns sprout and grow.

zanthia (author)2008-04-15

tetra pak IS recyclable... it's just not common in the usa (the recycling)

omnibot (author)zanthia2008-04-16

Really? How? Tetras are common as muck here (Sweden) and I know we're just supposed to put them with the combustiables. Also, love the instructable.

zanthia (author)omnibot2008-04-16

I don't know the details of it, but I know its possible for them to be recycled. The UK is big on it. They don't do it where I live (they don't recycle much of anything), which makes me mad every time I drink milk or juice.

qetuo (author)zanthia2008-04-18

I know how you fell my county can't recycle, this, or that. It is pathetic really. What they will and wont do. But i like the instructible it is a really good idea, you could plant all types of things in there, then just bury it in the ground and the roots would punch through the tetra.

omnibot (author)zanthia2008-04-18

Thanx .. I'll start getting on peoples nerves at once.

double2 (author)2008-04-17

I have been cleaning, cutting, and saving my tetra paks. I plan on stapling them on the dogs house like shingles, to reflect the brilliant sun (which is maybe why they are turned inside out). After I have enough saved for the outside of the dog house I will continue saving them but rinse and keep intact. The will be usedon the inside of doghouse as a "dead air space" insulation and papercreted(plastered) over.

HewgO (author)2008-04-16

Nice Instructable. Clear, simple and for a good cause. Also, nice photoshop in the end >:)

FriendOfHumanity (author)HewgO2008-04-17

Well done Hewg0, I was waiting for someone to spot that.

The Dark Ninja (author)2008-04-15

Is there a place to buy oak nuts/seeds to plant? I live in Sicily and would like to plant a few out this way. Seeing as how there are none here. (Military... Gov't Housing. I think I could plant it in a pot and take it home w/ me and plant it there.)

sadly, I think the whole non-native species thing may be an issue. True, oaks don't even start acorning till they're 20-50 years old... but there probably is still some kind of import restriction. another important factoid is, only around one in 10,000 acorns actually makes it to the tree stage naturally. You may be better off considering a nice local cherry or olive tree, if you're "returning home" to a temperate enough climate.

toomuch (author)2008-04-16

Nice idea & nice instructable, thanks for contributing. Also, thanks for listing the ways in which one might not be able to enjoy the trees with children & grandchildren. ;) I think you left a few possibilities out, for instance: One might be unable to find a partner. Babies become illegal. Not enough people recycle tetrapacks and the earth boils up from the global warming. Ha ha, just trying to have fun :)

Alienor (author)2008-04-16

Very nice but tetrapacs ARE recyclable.....come over to Europe and learn how to do it...;-) We have some really large companies doing this and earning lots of money.

wocket (author)2008-04-15

what a great idea.

Kevvixx (author)2008-04-15

One Word. Awesome.

GorillazMiko (author)2008-04-15

Simple to say.

You got my vote.

(and rating)

silver912targa (author)2008-04-15

Turning the tetra-pack inside out is just for the aesthetics, right? And you choose oak trees because they live long? Why not chestnuts, they're easy to grow and give nuts (or fruit?) to eat. That's a double gain isn't it. Thanks for your post. Michel Portugal

liam01 (author)2008-04-15

Tetrapack can be recycled into envelopes. I know this become i am about to sell them. liking the idea, i shall start collecting cartons strait away.

liam01 (author)liam012008-04-15


iraqniphobia (author)2008-04-15

I've always wanted to be like Elzéard Bouffier! Now with this, I can one up him!

dacker (author)iraqniphobia2008-04-15

Did you see the animated film, "The Man Who Planted Trees?" It is one of the most memorable and moving films I have ever seen.

My wife and I, then childless, first saw it at an animation film festival on Christmas Eve. When it finally came-out on VHS, we bought it -- and again when it was available on DVD. Every Christmas Eve, the whole family watches it together; it's a new tradition.

It's available via Netflix.

iraqniphobia (author)dacker2008-04-15

Yes, I have! It is a very moving animation.I saw it streamed on the internet, and I made quite a few other people watch it.

About This Instructable




More by FriendOfHumanity:Giant Light Up Marquee LettersAnti-theft Sandwiches Bag Mould Bag and Soya Milk Hidden Safe.Vintage Webley Senior Airgun Stripdown.
Add instructable to: