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  • Writer's picturePrerana Maheshwari

Flower Waste, a cause for concern?

We have always found ourselves attracted to flowers, be it the fragrance, the colors or just how beautifully they stand out in nature. As children, we plucked petals out of flowers, while growing up we bought bouquets for occasions or plucked a few and put them in vases to decorate our homes. But what did we do with them after they had withered?

Flowers being sold in a local Indian Market

In India, 8,00,000 metric tonnes of flower waste is disposed into the rivers from the offerings in Temples. To this, we would say that flowers are organic and biodegradable and there is no harm that’s done. Degradation of floral waste is an extremely slow process when compared to agricultural waste. The Floriculture industry has grown rapidly in India; to meet the demands of the market , farmers use pesticides and chemicals. The flower waste ends up in water bodies, polluting the aquatic life and affecting the lives of those utilizing the water resources.

Flower waste from religious ceremonies in the river Ganga ; Flower waste disposed onto the streets

Parimala Shivaprasad, a chemical engineer turned eco entrepreneur has been working on extracting essential oils from flower waste and utilizing the remaining waste as compost to produce organic manure.
Apart from this, ‘Help Us Green’, a company based out of Kanpur, India developed a solution for dealing with flower waste effectively. The first product they worked on was a vermicompost called ‘Mitti’ made of flower waste, coffee grounds and 17 other natural ingredients which was a safer alternative to chemical fertilizers. They soon developed a range of hand rolled incense sticks and cones made of flower waste. The petals and fragrance are used to make incense while the leaves, stems and other leftovers are used to make vermicompost. The packaging is also biodegradable with ‘Tulsi’ seeds embedded into the paper so a plant would grow out of it, making the entire product eco friendly.
They have also been working on a material known as ‘florafoam’ made from Mycelium to replace thermocol in packaging.

Flower waste collected from the rivers

Hand rolled incense sticks; Packaged Incense sticks made by ‘Help Us Green’: Photo by UN Environment / Georgina Smith; Vermicompost by ‘Help Us Green’

Causes for concern in this rapidly developing world are at their peak. Almost every object utilised by us has turned into a cause for concern: be it the raw materials used in making a product; the way we utilise the product or the disposal of it. Today, it is not only the large chemical industries but also small scale food industries whose wastage is causing an enormous impact on our planet.

It is important to focus on reusing and recycling wastage rather than developing alternative products; as developing a new product would need to take into account an environment friendly manufacturing and disposal process.

Published on 25 June 2019 via Medium


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