As one approaches Bhaunti, a small village 25 km west of the district headquarters of Kanpur, the smell of flowers becomes overpowering. It’s coming out of a building where Ankit and Karan collects as much as 800 kilograms of waste flowers every day from the 29 temples in Kanpur, recycles them and turns them into incense sticks and organic vermicompost (made from a composting process using various species of worms). The founders, Ankit Agarwal and Karan Rastogi, have successfully trademarked the term “Flowercycle” for this process.
The duo was visiting the temples on the banks of the Ganga in Bithoor, Kanpur, in 2015, when they thought of the idea of recycling floral waste. “Pollution caused by flowers, unlike industrial waste, is often overlooked in the drive to clean the holy river,” says Agarwal. And it’s not just the flowers rotting in the river but also the pesticides used on them, which can affect marine life. Shortly after, the two left their jobs to launch Help Us Green. “When we started, everyone thought we were mad,” says Rastogi. The vermicompost has a mix of 17 natural ingredients, including coffee grounds discarded by the local outposts of a coffee chain.
Later, IIT Kanpur chipped in with some funds. Later, they started making environment-friendly incense sticks, sans coal, in Sarsol village in Kanpur. And since devotees found it difficult to throw packets of incense products embossed with images of gods in dustbins and so threw them in the river, Help Us Green started selling its products in paper infused with Tulsi seeds that could be sowed once the incense was used. Another new product is in the pipeline: florafoam to replace thermocol. Help Us Green has brought respectability to more than 200 informal “scavengers”-usually women from lower castes.
Source: India Today