Plant Play: Taking KHAN-NA to the Streets of Seoul

You may remember from our last post that KHAN-NA is the “unused space between rice paddies.” In Thailand, Double A leverages this space to plant our proprietary Double A Paper-Tree, and benefits Thai farmers by paying them for their unused land and then paying them for the mature trees when they’re ready to harvest. Not only is this sustainable, it is also an efficient way to utilize the farm land. 

But did you know that’s just the beginning of sustainable papermaking? One of the beautiful things about KHAN-NA is that it doesn’t have to just happen in Thailand—or even in a rice paddy. In April 2014, Double A worked with Seoul City Government and social venture company Tree Planet to create a program called “Plant Play in KHAN-NA.” The goal was to identify spots of KHAN-NA or unused places with the aim of beautifying empty spaces.

Double A first pitched the project on social media, and the response was overwhelming. In just one and a half months, Seoul citizens posted pictures and corresponding stories of 3,840 sites that they wanted to make more useful and beautiful. Many of these eyesores were filled with garbage; others looked unsafe and in disrepair.

Guided by 86,000 votes highlighting the citizens’ top choices, Double A narrowed the sites down to 14, and dispatched 30 Expedition members to these spaces. The teams created planting plans accommodating the unique needs of each space. Then 20,000 citizens joined the effort, pitching in to plant over 8,000 trees and flowers in October, 2014. It was a remarkable show of support.

The teams found other ways to beautify the spaces too. They painted cracked walls with beautiful murals, installed solar lighting to illuminate unsafe alley ways and other abandoned areas, set up smart light posters to warn people not to dump trash, added eco green light boxes to busy intersections to measure air pollution and even created colorful bird houses to welcome wildlife.

With so much goodwill, Plant Play got a ton of attention. The project generated over 200 media mentions—and best of all—gave the city new life. Not only were the spaces re-energized, but the citizens of Seoul were ecstatic about the transformations and expressed great interest in continuing the project. Plant Play had lifted their morale and their desire to better the planet.

Related: Sustainable Business Resources

Plant Play in KHAN-NA Continues

A few months later, Double A selected six members from the 30-person expedition team to wrap up the project with a tour of their plant in the heart of Thailand. Finalists were chosen based on their KHAN-NA changing ideas, presentation skills, ability to harmonize with the team and social media, among other capabilities. One of the participants, 24-year old Bokyung Kang, said, “It was an amazing experience to witness the eco-friendly manufacturing process of Double A through my own eyes. Double A helps farmers and truly cares for the environment. I will add the use of Double A paper in my list of eco-friendly practices and tell the story to people who care about the environment.”

KHAN-NA is everywhere—In the crevices of cities, in the medians of suburban parking lots and throughout the countryside. And Double A is always looking for new and effective ways to help nurture our environment. Hopefully down the road, we’ll find even more inventive ways to use this KHAN-NA for the greater good.

In the meantime, find the KHAN-NA in your own backyard. You’d be surprised what a few well-placed flowers and trees can do for your space—and your entire outlook.