Project Palaash by Enactus Aryabhatta (Aryabhatta College, University of Delhi) has made it to the Top 12 of the 1 Race 4 Ocean competition hosted by Enactus global. Comprising a team of 50 students, Project Palaash collects flower waste from places of worship and convert it into natural organic dyes and other sustainable products like essential oils, candles, etc.
"Otherwise, these flowers are dumped into water bodies, polluting them. We ensure zero wastage of flowers as the waste generated after extracting the dyes is converted into compost," says Nupur Joshi, Associate Member, Enactus Aryabhatta.
Tell us more about 1Race 4 Ocean competition.
1 Race 4 Ocean is an annual international Enactus competition, where more than 100 teams across the world present innovative solutions to tackle ocean crises while also having a social impact.
When was Project Palaash set up? How do you collect flower waste?
It was set up in September 2019. We formed partnerships with temples across Delhi-NCR to collect floral waste, which is then segregated. We use flower petals to create dye baths, and use the rest of the waste as organic manure. In temples, the flowers are collected in separate bins, which our team members pick up and deposit at our production centre in Chhatarpur.
How are the dyes generated?
It is a simple two-step process: Preparation of the fabric (mordanting) and preparation of the dye bath. The fabric is boiled in a mordant bath (mordants such as harad and alum powder) and the dye bath is prepared by boiling the dye material (marigold petals, tea leaves, onion skins and madder roots) in water.
Once the dye bath is ready, it is strained properly and the fabric is put in the dye bath for a fixed amount of time. There is no harmful chemical used. The remains after the process are used as organic manure in plants and gardens.
Who benefits from Project Palaash?
As of now we have 400 women beneficiaries, mostly from New Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, who get an opportunity to rebuild their lives by engaging with us. These women are victims of human trafficking, and come to us through STOP India, an NGO that rehabilitates human trafficking victims.
More than 70 per cent of them are illiterate, which means their chance of getting jobs is nil. The products dyed by them are sold through our website, and the revenue generated is distributed among them. We have also collaborated with various brands working in the field of sustainable fashion such as Dhuri (an expert in the field of natural dyeing) for selling our dyes.
We also conduct skill training workshops on basic financial and technical knowledge so that no one can dupe them.
What other activities you undertake?
Since we aim to turn our beneficiaries into entrepreneurs, we up skill them in techniques such as tie and dye, ombre dyeing, clamping and block printing in fabrics. To resuscitate the withering Indian handlooms, we present 100 per cent cotton textures of shirts and pants. Along with the weavers of Kutch, we produce mats, table runners, pillow cases and sheets that combine creativity with environmental awareness.
We undertake campaigns to make people aware about different environmental issues. This apart, we have collaborated with fellow Enactus teams from Canada, Germany, Azerbaijan and UK to launch a vertical of Palaash in their respective countries. We conduct regular online meetings and training sessions about natural dyeing with them and run awareness campaigns.
How is work happening during the pandemic?
During lockdown our production centres were shut, but we used the opportunity and time to launch online marketing and awareness campaigns on issues such as sustainable fashion, United Nations SDG’s, natural dyeing, etc.
We ran social media campaigns in order to promote our project not only in India, but in the UK, Azerbaijan, Canada, etc. We conducted live sessions on Instagram with bloggers and organisations working in the sustainable fashion and natural dyeing domains.
We are involved in continuous research and development work to diversify our project by addition of new product lines such as scented candles, essentials and new dyes and techniques. We carried out prototyping for the same at our homes and we are all set to launch these once the restrictions are lifted.