Picture this: Independence day at school, students dressed up in white uniform, the march past parade holding small tricolour flags and waving it during the morning assembly, banners lined with flags from one corner to another. But what happens after the event is over? An ugly sight of strewn plastic.
This struck 29-year-old Renuka Shah so hard that she decided to start her own business involving seed-paper national flags. The interior-designer-cum-businesswoman started off her venture in 2015 by manufacturing seed paper notebooks. “We were overwhelmed by the phenomenal response that we got when we launched it on a global shopping website and that was when we decided that we should take it further,” she says.
Today, she offers a variety of eco-friendly products. So much so that she even named it Eco-friendly Jalebi.
How did the idea pop up? “It all started as an activity for school kids that involve colouring the national flag and taking it home, but now it has reached every almost every household and corporate,” explains Renuka.
The size of the tricolour flag ranges from 2x3 to 4x6 and are priced at a very nominal rate of Rs 4-5. “Since the size of the flags is small, they can be easily planted and grown into a plant. Although the bigger flags can be used for activities, they can’t be torn in order to plant as it is against the rule.”
When asked her if it is legal to bury the tricolor flags, she immediately expresses a resounding, “Yes, of course.” “Since the flag is a symbol of pride and dignity, it should be buried without folding or tearing. The rules are mentioned in the Flag Code of India, 2002.” she adds. According to the rule, the national flag can be buried or burned. The damaged flags must be placed inside a wooden box and buried in the earth. It can be burned in a safe place in the centre of flames.
From marigold, basil, tomato, chilli, carrot to dill, the seeds are embedded into the paper in specific quantities so that it can grow into five to six plants at a time. Interestingly, the seed paper is made from textile waste, which is made into pulp and then handmade into paper.
Talking about the choice of seeds, she says, “Our country embraces a tropical climate and that must be taken into consideration while manufacturing the seed paper. The seeds we offer thrives in the temperature that is suitable for India.”
“Even now people ask me does the paper actually have seeds in it? Does it really grow?. But from there, we’ve grown to supplying corporate giants such as Tata, Godrej, Kalpa Druma, Mahindra and even Microsoft who have expressed their satisfaction with the plants that grow.”
Renuka and her team have shipped close to 15,000 flags to states and cities including Odisha, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Chennai, on this Independence Day alone. “We cannot imagine a life without plastic. Everyone is aware of that fact, but to go a step further and start incorporating eco-friendly products in our everyday life is the need of the hour. Zero-waste is the future if we have to save planet earth,” she says.