New Delhi/Mumbai: Raksha Bandhan, a festival that celebrates the special bond between a brother and sister is just around the corner and the markets across India are filled with beautiful rakhis in various sizes, colours and designs. As tying of rakhi is considered to be a symbolic gesture wherein a brother promises to protect his sister for life, a few environment conscious people in India are promoting rakhis that will promise a safe environment as well. With an aim to give back to the nature, Aurangabad’s ‘Ba No Batwo’ and Delhi’s ‘Abhika Creations’ by Abhika Jewels are giving an eco-friendly twist to Raksha Bandhan by making rakhis that grow into plants.
To make eco-friendly rakhi, both the organisations use clay that dissolves in water without polluting it. But since they wanted it to be a long lasting rakhi or a gift that the other person could treasure they decided to make it plantable and therefore added seeds inside the rakhi.
While everyone is excited to celebrate the auspicious event of Raksha Bandhan what one fails to realise is that the plastic beeds used in the rakhis is further contributing to plastic pollution. Since childhood, I have been passionate about fashion and while studying the course I realised that there’s a darker side to it where huge volumes of environmentally hazardous chemicals that are used in enormous amounts. I have been upcycling several things especially in my personal life so this year I decided to use Raksha Bandhan as an opportunity to spread awareness and promote eco-friendly rakhis, Gargi Parmar Bhale, founder of ‘Ba No Batwo’ tells NDTV.
The handcrafted rakhis, created by Gargi and her team, are made from clay and seeds of different plants are infused in it. The threads of the rakhi are painted with natural colours like geru, turmeric and rice paste. For the base of rakhi, discarded cardboard papers or matchstick boxes are used.
While Gargi passion for the environment emerged during her fashion course, Abhishek Bardia’s love came from the concept of non-plastic packaging.
In the year 2016, we launched quirky rakhis in metal. We were the first one to come up with designs like ‘swag wala bhai’, ‘bade bhaiya’, and others. We were brainstorming on what new can be done this rakhi. Parallelly our team was planning to have 100 per cent non-plastic packaging from 2019. So, we decided to combine the two by preponing the non-plastic packaging plan and initiate it from this rakhi season. But, we realised that if we are sending something in a non-plastic packaging, we need to come up with an eco-friendly rakhi itself and that is how eco-friendly rakhis were born, says the 32-year-old.
Fashioned out of clay, the plantable rakhi of Abhika Creations has seeds of Vinca Rosea also known as Sadabahar, is handmade and handpainted using eco-friendly paints and alta (red dye). To ensure individuals plant these rakhis, Abhika Creations provides biodegradable pot, a packet of soil and a six step instruction manual to make it easy for people to plant.
Talking about seeds and things to keep in mind while using rakhi, Abhishek says,
We chose Vinca Rosea because it is bright and blooms twice a year. You can see the seeds on the top of the rakhi as they are integrated as part of the design. Since rakhi is made of clay and is fragile, it is to be kept away from water. It is suggested to plant it the same day or next day of wearing it. The reason it is fragile is we have not baked it. Once clay is baked, whatever natural ingredients are there actually die.
Product To Packaging: Eco-friendly All The Way
From making the unique collection of rakhis to packaging it for customers, every step and product used by both the organisations is made from scrap material or is eco-friendly. Instead of using plastic sheets, thermocol or plastic cello-tapes, Gargi uses coconut husk and ‘chuka’ leaves (sorrel leaves) are used as cushions for the rakhis. Cotton cloths are upcycled and used for packaging.
Seed rakhis by Abhika Creations are wrapped in a butter paper. Along with a packet of soil and instruction manual, rakhi is kept in a biodegradable pot, which is then kept in a corrugated box. To seal the box, instead of using cello-tape made of plastic, the company uses paper tape. Till now Abhika creations has sold 4,000 seed rakhis across the globe.
In both the cases, once the celebrations are over, the siblings can pour water on the clay, add some fertiliser or basic garden clay and see the seeds grow into a plant over a period of time. Once a sapling is there, biodegradable planter provided by Abhika creations can be shifted to a bigger pot.
Currently, both the products are available on their respective official website and different e-commerce websites.
So, tie a green rakhi on your sibling’s wrist and gift a greener festival to the environment.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.