It’s that time of the year again when we Indians tie a sacred thread on our beloved ones and express our affection and commitment to them. Friendship bands are no way comparable to the commitment expected when you tie rakhis. It’s a different matter that some men who love placing friendship bands on women, run scared when it comes to rakhis!
Rakhi or Rakshabandhan is a sacred talisman or band that is tied among loved ones in India to symbolically indicate the commitment of brotherly protection. Today, this tradition has moved beyond reaffirming the brother-sister bond to become a symbol of friendly affection among all. However, there has been a steady deterioration in the quality of rakhis that are being produced in mass scale with heavy use of synthetic kitschy material.
Once these bands are discarded, they pile up in garbage and end up in landfills without decomposition. Realizing this environmental harm, a few organisations have taken up the task of creating eco-friendly rakhis that are not only biodegradable, but also are fashionable in design. In fact some of these rakhis are extremely eye-catchy due to their unique designs.
Seed Rakhis by Gram Art Project
Gram Art Project is a rural initiative started by TEDx speaker and renowned artiste Shweta Bhattad for the cause of women empowerment. This project has created these unique seed rakhis or seed bands that are made from organic cotton yarn, recycled paper, non-hybrid seeds and natural dyes. Unlike other handicraft artisans group, Gram Art Project takes complete end to end execution of rakhi production right from the yarn spinning to preparing colour dyes.
The yarn for this band has been hand-spun on charkha by women at Gram Sewa Mandal. This makes the seed bands not just environment-friendly, but society-friendly and economy-friendly as well. Gram Sewa Mandal is the voluntary organization that supports farmers to grow indigenous cotton varieties in villages of Wardha district of Maharashtra and Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh.
The yarn of this band has been dyed using extracts of natural elements. For example, the pink comes from Palash, blue from Aparajita, yellow from Tecoma, etc. The seed bands come affixed on plantable seed-paper cards, which have been made by recycling waste paper and embedded with live non-GM, IPR-free, non-hybrid seeds so that the paper too can be sown after its use. Each card has hand-printed on it the story of the band attached to it. All are part of a collective voice of women involved in this process saying, “Kamjor Nahi Hum!” These rakhis are sold at a price range of INR55 to INR90.
Plantable Rakhis by Surprise Someone
What happens when a mother-daughter duo named Pinky Maheshwari and Sharda Daga come together with some funky ideas to save the environment? They Surprise Someone! Yes, that’s the name of the company that produces these colourful plantable rakhis that come packaged in extremely cute boxes with doodles on them. Each of these plantable rakhis are handmade by rural women artisans near Jaipur, which empowers them and uplifts their lives.
Surprise Someone offers green gift items made of recycled handmade paper produced from cotton rags/ waste cotton that is embedded with seeds. They have extremely diverse range of product right from calendars, notepads, gift pouches, sketch books, gift hampers, wedding invites, etc. Now they have come up with colourful plantable rakhis that are not only stylish but 100% eco-friendly too! These luxurious rakhis are sold at a price range of INR250 to INR750.
Seedpaper Rakhis by Seed Paper India
Another eco-friendly rakhi initiative comes from Seed Paper India. This company produces eco-friendly plantable seed rakhis made of jute thread, petals made of recycled paper and a seed ball in the center. Led by Roshan Ray, Seed Paper India has been established to ensure sustainable living and environmental preservation by producing a range of products made from seed embedded biodegradable paper. Some of its well-known paper products are handmade paper embedded with seeds, seedpaper Indian flags, plantable visiting cards, stationery material made from seed paper, etc.
Among these, the most remarkable ones are the seedpaper rakhis which are handmade and hand-painted by physically and mentally challenged individuals in their unit in Bengaluru. They are colorful in design, light in weight and are packed in recycled paper boxes. After the use, these seed rakhis can be buried in soil and have a high germination rate. They have no shelf life, so can used stored for a long time. These rakhis are sold at a price range of INR200-300.
Scrapshala is a Varanasi-based organization that is not only famous for creating beautiful products out of waste material, but also empowering local artisans along the way. It was founded by Shikha Shah, whose entrepreneurial journey began when she was doing a course at IIT Madras in Rural Technology and Business Incubator.
Scrapshala artisans have come with unique idea of using cork as a base with rice grains and other plantable seeds, organic colours and old wedding cards as decorative elements. Cork rakhis bring a brilliant eco-friendly solution to commercial rakhis. They not only looks stylish but also are affordable and open to customization. Each rakhi takes 30-40 minutes to get handcrafted by an artisan. They use cork, wooden beads, cotton thread, rice grains, plantable seeds, organic colours and old wedding cards to make these rachis. These rakhis are sold at a price of INR55 onwards.