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.

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.



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

Punch some holes in the base.

Step 3: 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.

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.

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

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




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    40 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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.

     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!


    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?

    2 replies
    notkerKlaus Baude 123

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

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


    9 years ago on Step 2

    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

    10 years ago on Introduction

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

    1 reply

    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.


    10 years ago on Step 5

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

    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.

    Nicolas Jara

    10 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    1 reply

    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.


    10 years ago on Introduction

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


    10 years ago on Step 5

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


    10 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    11 years ago on Introduction

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