Discussions here and here talk about making these frugal paper pots to ease the shock when transplanting seedlings.

I've heard though that you should only use black and white newsprint, as the colour ink may contain heavy metals. But with the rise of cheaper colour printing over that past decade, I can't think of many pages of the newspapers that I have (rarely) read recently that don't have a colour element in them.

My question is, how much of a risk is it to use colour newsprint? The seedlings that I will be growing will be crops.


2 Answers 2


It appears as though using any type of newspaper can be hazardous. Newspapers are whitened with bleach. The ink is either a petro-chemical compound or as of lately vegetable based but more likely a combination of the two. This is described in complete detail in this article.


paper towels that do not contain other chemicals or toilet paper could be a decent alternative, but avoid all toxins in such early stages of development for your crops

  • When you say paper towel, I assume that is kitchen roll? If so, doesn't that degrade far too quickly when it gets wet?
    – AvieRose
    Mar 12, 2013 at 21:05
  • 1
    It does, definitely multiple layers for anything you use. You have to consider what it means when something does not biodegrade quickly, its less natural.
    – Four_lo
    Mar 14, 2013 at 5:55

I personally use a mixture of recycled plastic containers, anything from yoghurt pots to pot noodles- the latter being my favourite- heat treated so they have strength, depth and strangely the exact same size as a normal small pot found in trays of bedding plants from the nurseries- so one can reuse the trays as well...also one can reuse them year in and year out and they can be sterilised, stacked and made to have holes in the bottoms too- should last about three years or so. i also reuse tonne bags- but thats an entirely different story...

  • The problem with this is I would still be 'shocking the roots' of the seedlings by pulling them out of the pots.
    – AvieRose
    Mar 16, 2013 at 21:13

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