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“It's time for products that give back.”

Recession or no recession, long term, one of brands' major quests is for more ecologically sustainable activities. So here’s just one small, sign-of-the-times eco-mini-trend for 2013: the phenomenon of products and services that quite literally contain new life inside. Rather than being discarded or even recycled (by someone else), these products can be planted and grown, with all the eco-status and eco-stories that come with that.

Of course, NEW LIFE INSIDE products are not going to solve major sustainability challenges. But more than ever in 2013, there is great symbolic value in creating new, environmentally beneficial life out of a consumer product.

And symbolic, even playful statements of your values will resonate with consumers, too. Especially if they are seen as expressions of larger intent to take more meaningful action.

'To Be Nature' Chopstick: Converts to plant support

Korean designer Gyeongwan Koo created the 'To Be Nature Chopstick' as an environmental alternative to disposable chopsticks. One of each pair of the sticks has a transparent starch cap at the end containing a seed. Once users are finished with the chopsticks the stick with the seed cap can be placed tip-first into soil, where the seed will germinate and grow into a plant. Meanwhile, the second stick can be slotted into the top of the first, providing a support for the seedling to grow alongside.

National Prescribing Service

Sprout: The pencil that wants to be a plant

Sprout is a pencil that wants to be a plant when it grows up. Once the pencil becomes too short to use it can be planted: a seed capsule in the tip of the pencil will dissolve upon contact with water, allowing the seed inside to germinate and grow. The project had successfully raised more than USD 35,000 from over 2,000 supportive PRESUMERS when funding closed in September 2012.

Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa: Trackable seeds

Chile’s Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa has launched an initiative to give each of its guests a trackable virtual tree seed. Every guest is given a code and can choose where in the relevant protected area they would like their tree to be planted. Once planted, guests receive a geo-referenced Google Maps link to track their tree.

Molson Canadian: Plantable coasters

As part of beer brand Molson Canadian’s Red Leaf Project in reforestation, the brand released coasters made of seed paper, which grow into a tree when planted. Since June 2012, one million of the coasters have been distributed via bars and select crates of beer.