New Delhi: “Have you ever heard about pencils made from recycled newspaper? The chances of people saying yes will be less. The funny thing is that this green innovation has been in the Indian market for the last 10 years and there are many manufacturers who are selling it. This is the main reason, why I took it upon myself and started selling this innovation,” says Rajesh Singh, a 52-year-old mechanical engineer turned entrepreneur from Pune, Maharashtra, who set up Go Grameen, an online portal for eco-friendly products in 2017 after quitting his job as an engineer.
Talking to NDTV about how he embarked on his eco-friendly journey to start Go Grameen, Rajesh said, I was on a vacation in Himachal, there I happened to see a local trader being forced to sell handmade natural soaps for an extremely cheap rate. I bought few pieces from him and after returning, I started searching for the same product online. I realised, he was selling the product at a very low cost and if he goes ahead with it, he won’t be able to survive in the market. It’s not just him, in India, there are hundreds of artisans out there who are not getting paid properly. And, that’s what motivated me to do something. I decided to work with these artisans and showcase their work on a platform where it can be seen by a larger audience.
After coming back, Mr Singh quit his job and launched a platform – Go Grameen with two prime focus areas – one to showcase the work of Indian artisans properly and secondly promote green products in the Indian market. He adds,
As an engineer, I wanted to be a part of solutions and not create more problems. I have been born and brought up in Pune, I have seen how my city has changed over the past few years. The climate is different, there is a lot of pollution, garbage and plastic. I wanted to change this scenario and work on green innovations that will help save our planet.
As Mr Singh started researching and looking for artisans who were selling green products, he was persuaded by his environmentalist friends to work on solutions for items inside a stationary box – like a pencil.
Before I started, I wanted to know what all products I can work with so that I can bring in a successful change in the society. When my friends asked me to look for green alternatives to pencils, I started researching about it. That’s when I realised, there are so many manufactures out there who are selling this. I zeroed down on one manufacturer and started buying eco-friendly pencils from him that are made from recycled paper instead of the wood.
After launching an online portal, Mr Singh started visiting schools and NGOs to make people aware about eco-friendly pencils.
In India, more than one lakh trees are getting cut each year, simply to make pencils. Not just trees, there is a lot of paper we waste, that ends up going into our dying landfills. This eco-friendly pencil combats both the problems with one simple solution, adds Mr Singh.
In one years’ time, today, Go Grameen has become one of the known platforms in India for selling eco-friendly pencils and coloured pencils across the country. The products are available on their official site at a cost price of Rs 50 for 10 pencils (normal pencils) and Rs 80 for 10 pencils (coloured pencils). Moreover, in the last two months, Mr Singh has sold more than 55,000 pencils.
My dream is to see, every child in India holding this green pencil. It is a necessary change, it is for our future – if we need to save our planet, and we all need to do something for it. I urge everyone to take up this responsibility and go green, signs off the green warrior.