EVERY DAY, SOME 800 kg of flowers are gathered from temples, mosques, and gurudwaras across Kanpur and brought to a small shed. This is where Helpusgreen, a social enterprise started by Ankit Agarwal and Karan Rastogi, recycles the flowers into compost, incense sticks, and soap.
Started in May 2015, Helpusgreen sells its products online and has been exporting to Europe, clocking sales of Rs 63 lakh in its first year. Agarwal says an order to a French buyer in their early days led to the creation of seed paper for packaging. “He pointed out that the only non-degradable part of our product was the packaging. We fused paper cellulose with cellulose from seeds for the packaging and after you use the product, you can plant the wrapper in a pot,” says Agarwal. Impressed by their work, the Uttar Pradesh government has allotted them land to set up shop in Varanasi. “About 13 tonnes of flowers are offered every day in Varanasi. We plan to start work there after the monsoon,” says Rastogi. “We didn’t want people to buy our products just because they were made of flowers from the Ganga,” says Agarwal, explaining that intensive research and testing have gone into every product. The latest from their makeshift research lab: styrofoam that can decompose within three years.