HYDERABAD: Fresh flowers add beauty and piety to events and religious institutions, but are mostly abandoned after a day. Most of these, even after one-time use, remain fragrant and beautiful, and seeing these natural resources dumped is a pitiable sight.
Sriya Donepudi, a student of Oakridge School, Khajaguda, decided to do something about this. And today, her initiative to recycle used flowers has earned her The Diana Award, established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales. The 15-year-old, who came up with a way of improving the lives of women from economically weak backgrounds by recycling floral waste to make home products, has been recognised as a young person who tried to make a positive change in her community.
The initiative started when Sriya, a student of Oakridge International School, had to submit a project as part of her Class 10 curriculum. Seeing the potential in her project, her school nominated her for the award, which is given to persons aged aged between 9-25 years for social action. “I love flowers and it always bothered me that they would lie abandoned in heaps after social functions. So I came up with a business plan to recycle these flowers with the help of women.
I collected discarded flowers from events and took them to Kotagiri where my maternal grandparents live. It is a village in Nizamabad district. I explained the idea to a few women there, and soon, they were making soaps, paper weights, potpourri and other items from the floral waste.” They have not started selling the products yet, but with this award, this teenager is determined to make this venture a full-fledged company.
Her company is called Ankh, which symbolises the gift of life in Egyptian mythology. In a way, my initiative too gives a new life to flowers.” Shalini Samuel, who teaches in Oakridge School, said: “I nominated four students for the Diana Award and all of them received it because of the quality and depth of the projects they have done. Last year, two of our students won the award.”
— Kakoli Mukherjee kakoli@newindianexpress @KakoliMukherjee2