Climate change has been one of major concerns of mankind for long. Conventions and talks of combating the threat of devastation happen everywhere these days. India, being one of the major economies has pledged significant steps and we could not be happier witnessing our entrepreneurs contributing to achieve these ambitious targets. Two such entrepreneurs are Karan Rastogi and Ankit Agrawal, whose great idea for business is dead flowers!
Hailing from Kanpur, these young entrepreneurs noticed what a million eyes have seen. But as they say, “it takes a Newton question why”. Most people associate flowers with either love or worship. Once wilted, they are discarded by all and left to rot. However, some people make the best out of the worst. Such is the intellect of the duo. Their super cool idea of business not only profit them, it helps get rid of a major problem India faces.
The duo was highly disturbed after discovering the extent to which Ganges is polluted because of dumping of the huge amount of flowers. These seemingly-harmless flowers carry hazardous pesticides and chemical fertilizers. According to Karan and Ankit, around 80,00,000 tonne of waste flowers are discarded into Indian water bodies every year.
Many religions set a belief that flowers offered during the prayers are sacred and should be released in a water body. What they fail to realise is that the quantity of pesticides and fertilizers that were required to grow the flowers are also entering the water bodies along with the flowers thereby, polluting it. The already polluted river gets over-burdened during the religious festivals, The Kumbh being the biggest among them all.
As the the tests carried out by Uttar Pradesh’s state pollution control board, the found levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), which measures organic pollution, were at more than seven milligrams per litre – double the maximum acceptable level – after the first day of the Mela in 2013. This religious belief has for long kept the Ganga from cleaning, for, no matter how reasonable arguments are presented, religion doesn’t bow to anything.
Karan and Ankit, well appraised of this fact but passionate enough to not yield; found an alternative. The two minds came together and decided to gather as much flowers as possible from various temples and mosques, and convert them into some environment-friendly artifacts.
Therefore, the two boys started a project to convert the flowers into environment-friendly products. After extensive research for two years, a very interesting idea struck them in 2014. They established HelpUsGreen in May 2015, a project launched in an attempt to use the discarded flowers and turn them into lifestyle merchandise and bio-fertilisers.
The boys collected the flowers, mixed them with organic cow dung, followed by treatment with certain natural constituents like corn cobs, coffee residue, etc., thereby enhancing the nitrogen content of the end-product. The earthworms are then added to the mixture for consumption. The vermicompost is formed after 60 days during which the worms intake the organic waste and excrete it out in a digested form. The excreta are known as worm cast. It is an odourless, dark, nutrient-supplemented substance, named as Mitti by Karan and Ankit, with an excellent soil conditioning property and serves as a ready-to use bio-fertilizer.
Recycling the “waste”, they have accomplishing their due to mother nature. Icing on the cake, the task of collection of flowers and procession is tedious and thus, requires manpower. More than 80 women from various groups are employed for the project from different villages around Kanpur, hence imparted with a steady income.
Another important characteristic of the HelpUsGreen venture is that it makes use of recycled packaging that is made from abandoned cartons from a liquor industry in Kanpur.
Witty as they are, the duo sensed that religious beliefs bind people to their acts. They used this to nature’s advantage. Since it is quite known that people avoid throwing away packets with pictures of gods, they decided to pack the yajna/havan articles in paper implanted with tulsi seeds, so that the disposed packets will give rise to well-grown plants after coming in contact with the soil.
At present, the duo is exporting their manufactured goods to Germany and Switzerland and at the same time making them accessible on websites like Flipkart, Amazon etc.
HelpUsGreen is indeed a magnificent venture undertaken by the two innovative minds, Karan and Ankit, towards creating a clean, pollution free environment, which is indeed an actual way to worship God.