India’s environmental problems are manifold. There is one where the flower and offering wastes are thrown – sadly into the rivers most of the times – contaminating and destroying the waters. An innovative start-up in collaboration with IIT-Kanpur is now trying to solve this problem.
Showering flowers (8 Million tonnes annually) at Temples/Mosques is a religious ritual in India. These flowers are a symbol of devotion and thus believed that these sacrosanct flowers should be discarded into water bodies like the River Ganges to respect their sanctity. Sadly, these sacred flowers rot and create a havoc in the fragile ecosphere of the waterbody and leach into the groundwater. Toxic Arsenic, Lead and Cadmium from the harmful farm-runoff, pesticides, insecticides (>1000ppm) used to grow flowers mixes with the river water making it highly poisonous (PH 6-8.5) -linked to contracting cholera, hepatitis and severe diarrhea – the leading causes (86.7%) of child mortality across India & Bangladesh. The monumental temple-flower disposal and the deep-rooted religious significance is overriding Ganges’ biophysical stability, killing it.
HelpUsGreen is an interesting start-up. It converts flowers and other offerings in religious places into thermacol and incense sticks. Founders, Ankit agarwal and Karan Rastogi, have created a way to handle the waste which decays and harms the environment. They have also pioneered the “flowercycling” technology that processes the waste going into River Ganga. They have recycled 11,060 metric tonnes of temple-waste flowers until now.
Everyday they collect 8.4 tons of floral-waste and convert them into biodegradeable packaging material, charcoal-free incense and natural vermi-compost.
In the bargain, they have also gained recognition. Ankit Agarwal has been selected as one of the 17 young leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations, at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
As Ankit puts it – “We make religion sustainable.”
That they are tapping into such a huge amount of waste to recycle that into something so useful is heartening enough. What is even more amazing is who they hire as their employees. They are hiring women who worked as manual scavengers for the job. These women are now earning Six times their earlier income and get facilities like bus service, insurance and medical benefits.
To help sustain the environment, you can shop for their products from the online shop. I would encourage you to support this love effort.