New Delhi: Symbolic of the bond that siblings share, the festival of ‘raksha bandhan’ is no longer just about brothers promising to protect their sisters. Rakhi tied on a sibling’s wrist, no longer just confined to brothers but is also celebrated among sisters, symbolises a wish of a long and healthy life. Something that our planet is in dire need of. In an era of extinction rebellion and call for declaring climate change an emergency, every step, no matter how small counts, including switching from traditional rakhis that contain non-biodegradable materials like plastic to rakhis that can grow into sapling when planted on ground.
Usually, after the festivities, people discard rakhis with other waste items which then like most garbage lands up in water bodies or landfills. Whereas, plantable rakhis are either made of seed paper or clay with fruit and vegetable seeds embedded in it. On planting, such rakhis sprout into a plant. Here are five start-ups that are creating plantable rakhis in an attempt to make the festival waste-free:
1. Be Abhika
Be Abhika, a Delhi based start-up that makes jewellery and accessories ventured into making quirky rakhis in metal in 2016. The founders were the first ones to come up with quirky rakhi designs like ‘swag wala bhai’, ‘bade bhaiya’, and others. It is only last year the team decided to do something new and hence, plantable rakhis were born.
While we were brainstorming on what new can be done this rakhi, our team was planning to have 100 per cent non-plastic packaging from 2019. It is only then we realised that if we are aiming to send something in a non-plastic packaging which involves paper and corrugated box, we need to come up with an eco-friendly product and that is how eco-friendly rakhis were born, recalls 33-year-old Abhishek Bardia, co-founder of Be Abhika (formerly known as Abhika Creations).
With this idea, Be Abhika introduced plantable rakhis fashioned out of clay, having seeds of Vinca Rosea also known as Sadabahar, a pink coloured flowering plant that blooms all around the year. Plantable clay rakhis are handmade and hand painted using eco-friendly paints and alta (red dye).
A pack of ‘Grow Green Rakhi’ collection from Be Abhika comes with a rakhi, six step instruction guide, biodegradable planter and a packet of soil.
We provide rakhis for brothers, sisters, and sister-in-law in quirky designs like ‘chota bhai’, ‘swag wala bhai’, moustache and beard on clay, among others. It is suggested to plant these rakhis the same day or the next day of wearing it, because they are not baked hence fragile in nature. Once clay is baked, whatever natural ingredients are there actually die, says Abhishek.
The grow green rakhis come in a corrugated box, sealed with paper tape. While last year the team managed to sell 4000 rakhis across the globe, this year the aim is to sell 6000 rakhis.
Price: Rs. 299
Where to buy: Official website of Be Abhika and e-commerce websites
2. 21 Fools
In a bid to stop paper wastage in the country, a few years ago 31-year-old Divyanshu Asopa invented a different kind of paper – Beej-Kapas, which when sowed in the soil grows into a plant. Using this paper, Divyanshu manufactures various plantable products including wedding cards, calendars rakhis and, under the brand name ’21 Fools’.
Explaining how paper is converted into a plant Divyanshu says,
After the product has been used, one can put the paper in the soil, the cotton used to make that paper will start decomposing itself in the soil and the seeds will start to germinate and slowly become a plant.
21 Fools has got a range of plantable rakhis made from seed papers and decorated with dry and waste leaves. The idea of ‘green raksha bandhan’ is not just limited to rakhis but also extends to packaging. 21 Fools packs rakhi in a box made using waste cotton and place the rakhi on a bed of coconut fibre.
Price range: Rs. 200
Where to buy: Official website of 21 Fools
3. bioQ Eco Solutions
With the idea of re-designing daily use products using sustainable materials, mainly paper and agricultural waste, 31-year-old Saurabh Mehta kick-started bioQ Eco Solutions in 2017. From eco-friendly stationery, today the team of social entrepreneurs has ventured into making plantable rakhis.
The rakhis produced by bioQ involve just three things – paper, edible colours and seeds. While rakhis for brothers and kids have tulsi seeds infused in it, lumba rakhis that are normally for sister-in-laws have carrot seeds in them.
Talking about the innovation, Saurabh says,
It is in 2018 when we first manufactured and distributed plantable rakhis and the response has been pretty impressive. Last year we managed to sell 7,500 rakhi kits and this year we are aiming for 30,000.
With the message of ‘this raksha bandhan, tie a rakhi to your brother and to your planet too’, bioQ offers three rakhi kits namely – solo edition, classic edition, and luxury edition. While a solo edition, priced between Rs. 117- Rs. 135 consists of a choice of rakhi, plantable pencil with tomato seeds and instruction card packed in a reusable box made from recycled paper, the classic edition apart from all the contents of the solo edition has an added roli-chawal (holy red powder – rice) set. Classic edition is priced between Rs. 180 – Rs. 198. Luxury edition which ranges between Rs. 360-Rs. 396 is a complete package which entails re-usable box, roli-chawal set, two rakhis, plantable pen and pencil, printed postcard, instruction manual, coco planter, cocopeat, organic fertiliser, and nametags for siblings.
Price range: Rs. 117-396
Where to buy: Official website of bioQ Eco Solutions, and other e-commerce websites
Just like bioQ Eco Solutions, Pepaa (erstwhile Plantcil) too first made its mark in plantable stationery products and then introduced ‘eco-rakhi’ in 2018. Pepaa initiated by Divya and Vishnu from Tamil Nadu offers rakhis made using seed bomb, seed paper and other raw materials. Each rakhi has Tulsi seeds infused in it and innovators claim that it takes about 7-10 days for seeds to sprout once the rakhi is planted.
Pepaa offers both plantable rakhis and eco-rakhi gift box which is a complete gift set for especially designed for rakhi. While just rakhi comes in a pack of 3, 5, 7, and 10, accompanied with a ‘letter to bhaiya (brother)’ card and thank you card having planting instructions, eco-rakhi gift box comes up with planting essentials like coir pot, cocopeat coins, and organic fertiliser.
Talking about procuring raw materials and making of eco-rakhi, Divya, Co-Founder and CEO at Pepaa, says
We work with over 843 organic farmers and hundreds of rural women to create sustainable products and circular solutions for the world, from the villages of South India. 100 per cent organic seeds are sourced from our network of farmers.
Price: While eco-rakhi gift box is priced at Rs. 949 and is currently being sold at a discounted price of Rs. 599, set of rakhis ranges between Rs. 349- Rs. 799
Where to buy: Plantcil’s official website
5. Ba No Batwo (Grandmother’s Purse)
Gargi Parmar Bhale, founder of Aurangabad’s ‘Ba No Batwo’ too uses clay, seeds and natural colours to make eco-friendly alternative to traditional rakhis. Fabricated from clay, the design of the rakhi is put on a base of discarded cardboard papers or matchstick boxes which is then put together with a thread. The threads of the rakhi are painted with natural colours like geru (ochre powder), turmeric and rice paste.
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 are used in enormous amounts. I have been upcycling several things especially in my personal life and last year I decided to use Raksha Bandhan as an opportunity to spread awareness and promote eco-friendly rakhis, says Gargi.
Keeping up with the eco-friendly theme, Gargi and her team use coconut husk and ‘chuka’ leaves (sorrel leaves) as cushions for the rakhis and upcycled cotton clothes for packaging.
Price: Rs. 149
Where to buy: Ba No Batwo’s official website
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.