This is the story of Ankit Agarwal and Karan Rastogi, the duo from Kanpur, India. They are the co-founders of Help Us Green, a startup that recycles waste flowers into eco-friendly products and makes a profit through it. There are massive amounts of waste flowers (approximately 80,00,000 tons every year) at shrines that end up in rivers and lakes which is responsible for pollution of the water bodies especially the Ganges, the holy river of India.
It’s no surprise that India is big on religion. It is estimated that there are at least 600,000 temples in India. On top of it, there are numerous mosques, churches, gurudwaras all over the country. Growing and selling flowers is a booming business but what usually goes unnoticed is the amount of waste it creates. Every day millions of devotees offer flowers at the holy places which generally get disposed of in water bodies as they cannot be dumped into garbage due to the religious beliefs. The fertilizers and pesticides used in growing these flowers also end up in water giving rise to many water-borne diseases and possess danger for marine life.
Ankit and Karan are childhood friends and they decided to bring a change and convert the problem into an eco-friendly business venture. The first thing they did was research, in 2012. After successful research and experiments, in 2015, the duo picked up flowers from various holy places and mixing it with nitrogen content and earthworms, they converted the flowers into vermicompost, a great soil conditioner. They are selling this product by the name of “mitti” that means soil which helps in better growth of plants.
80% of the flowers get converted to vermicompost and the rest are crushed and made into incense sticks and sold. Moreover, the packets also contain tulsi seeds because people usually don’t throw away packets with faces of Gods. So, when thrown on the ground the seeds become the beautiful holy plant of Tulsi. The venture also provides jobs and income for many unemployed women. The duo made an invested Rs 72,000 at the beginning but now the company has a net worth of Rs 20 million. Now their products are being exported to Switzerland and Germany through Amazon and Flipkart.
What these young entrepreneurs are doing is commendable! Not only they are running a successful business, they are promoting sustainability at the same time and giving way to a green future.
Image credit: https://www.helpusgreen.com/pages/our-team