The mighty river Ganga flows past the invisible chants and the mooring birds, carrying another colourful culprit with it. The tale of rogue temple flowers polluting India’s largest river are as old as time, but Help Us Green is an NGO that converts them from river rot to coal-less, chemical free incense sticks. The NGO provides employment to women from stigmatised communities and the packaging which is infused with Marigold or Tulsi seeds can be planted after receiving.
Karan Rastogi had returned to Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh from Warwick when a visit to a temple along the Ganges left him stupefied. Flowers were being thrown by the minute, left slapping against the stone steps or against bare, prayerful bodies. Help us Green today upcycles at least two tonnes of flower waste daily from Mosques and Temples across Kanpur. The mission includes 23 local women who work vibrantly and with dexterity to produce smell that saves.
Flower Power: A heavy, colourful splash follows the wail of a conch and on the side a gloved hand collects flowers that straggle to shore in a last breath effort. The waste travels by lorry to a factory where it is unloaded in a time-staking routine and divided into groups. Nimble, expert hands sort through the flowers while unwrapping it of plastic and straggler leaves that are sent for compost.
The petals are pulled to purpose after being dried and crushed manually to create dough which is then hand-rolled into thin sticks.
The seed: The vine grew in his curious mind after a thesis on Sustainable practices by Fortune 500 companies raised questions about green tolerance and practise. The very act was distinctly futuristic and struck a chord that echoed years later, just as strong. In 2013, Karan began to manufacture shows with recyclable PVC soles and other material that reduced the chance of finding it in a landfill.
The temple incident that very year rang a loud bell that resonated with his earlier amazement of sustainability and business for the people, and Help Us Green was grown. Many of the women onboard worked as manual scavengers but have got a fresh new chance at a clean, green life.