MANGALURU: Go for paper products and a plastic-free society. That is their mantra. Going green, they give you Lord Ganesha idols, pens, rakhis and national flag growing into plants! A group of rural women in Pakshikere, a village about 22 km from Mangaluru, has been making eco-friendly products for the last four years and creating awareness on shunning plastic.
The eight women make a wide range of sustainable products under Paper Seed, a company based at Pakshikere near Kinnigoli which was started by a young entrepreneur Nitin Vas. The purpose of starting this social entrepreneurship was to reduce waste and not to create it. Nitin Vas says that if it has to be created, then reuse or recycle it. “Our goal is to ensure a healthy and greener planet for all of us,” he says.
Women from in and around Kinnigoli make biodegradable and eco-friendly paper which can be used for various purposes like wedding cards, greeting cards, invitations or for promotions, and save trees.
Another product these women make is a paper pencil using used newspapers. “No chemicals, wood or plastic is used to make these pencils. Millions of trees are cut to make pencils and this is an effective way to prevent it,” says Nitin, an artist and an alumnus of Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA), Mysuru. They make organic incense sticks too, hand-crafted with flowers and offered to religious places. It has the natural fragrance from the flowers and herbs. These are charcoal-free and made without artificial scents, colours or preservatives.
They also make eco-friendly jewellery, cups, paper straws, bamboo toothbrushes, earrings, baskets, seed pens, etc. Alisha Lawrance from Seattle, Washington, a customer, says that they gave away paper seed hearts made with tomato, lettuce and capsicum seeds as her daughter’s wedding giveaways. The women, supported by Nitin, have been creating awareness for eco-friendly festivals and celebrations. Last year, several decorative items made using recycled paper were launched for Christmas.
“We made eco-friendly Christmas decorative items such as stars, large balls, Santa Claus etc.,” says Vas.Earlier, they made over 11,000 paper seed national flags which are biodegradable, and an alternative for the plastic Tricolor for Independence Day. “We mixed passion fruit seeds from Kerala with newspaper pulp to make the flags and badges. Passion fruit is rich in nutrients especially fibre, vitamins A and C, and potassium,” he says.
These flags and badges can be disposed of in soil or flower pots. They have also made eco-Ganesha idols, and rakhis for Raksha Bhandan. Rakhis are made using various varieties of vegetable seeds such as tomato, cucumber, capsicum, Tulsi etc. These rakhis can be used and later sown and grown into a plant.
Recently, environmentalist Dinesh Holla launched paper toys made from paper pulp by Paper Seed. Their aim is to promote it as Mangaluru Toys on the lines of the Channapatna Toys.
“We intend to create awareness in the public to go for eco-friendly festivals and products thereby reducing usage of plastic,” Vas says. The next project is a Paper Seed village which is about creating stories of change and transformation in the lives of families and communities. It will consist of a research and development centre, open air theatre, butterfly park, rain water harvesting, solar energy, stores, workshops, museum etc.