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Incense sticks made from reused flowers

Incense sticks are usually made from plant resin or sap. Typically, they are mixed with charcoal, made into a fine powder, and rolled onto bamboo sticks. In India, an indigenous company has changed the way incense sticks are made. Based in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, Phool has created a sustainable way to make incense from used flowers.

The founder of the organization, Ankit Agarwal, came up with the idea of reusing flowers that were being dumped into the Ganga after pujas. He initially wanted to prevent the pesticides, that were used to grow the flowers, from seeping into the water. The Ganga is one of India's most sacred rivers. People from all over the country come to take a dip in the holy water. Agarwal believes that dumping these flowers in the water only increases its toxicity. They turned to mulch and even lost their color as soon as they entered the water.

When efforts to rid the Ganga of these harmful flowers began, Agarwal decided to use them for sustainable purposes. He began an initiative called which employed women from marginalized communities to create incense sticks out of the waste flowers. The flowers were taken out of the water, cleaned, and powdered. They were then rolled into sticks. These incense sticks do not use charcoal and don't cause too much smoke.

Phool has also begun an initiative to create leather out of these used flowers, which they call 'Fleather'. A scene of river Ganges from ghat in Varanasi. wikipedia

By providing employment to women who belong to lower castes, and those who have been labelled as 'Untouchables', Agarwal aims to create a sense of equality in society. In an interview with Our Better World, he says that when everyone has access to the same water, they become equal. He provides health benefits, insurance benefits, and food and water to all his workers. They in turn work hard as they are treated well and paid better.

Phool has also begun an initiative to create leather out of these used flowers, which they call 'Fleather'. They have also created an alternative to the highly toxic polystyrene, called 'florafoam', which is also made from reused flowers. The process of upcycling the many tons of flowers that get thrown away on a daily basis has paved a way to abate pollution, improved the livelihood of thousands of women, and has given birth to many sustainable practices that will contribute greatly to the health of the environment.

Keywords: Incense sticks, Phool, Waste Flowers, Ganga pollution


Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

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