Use a pencil, grow a tree
By: Aarushi Chandel
Catch up to the times of green gifting and watch your garden grow with plantable items offered by the Bengaluru enterprise
Imagine this. You throwaway a scrap of paper and in a few days or months’ time it turns into a tree or a tomato plant. Or you discard a pencil stub and it grows into bunches of coriander offerings. No, we are not hallucinating. The concept of embedding live seeds in commonly used objects is here. And the future of the world is looking a wee bit better.
Jalebi, a brand offering eco-friendly products, aims to do just that. Founded by Renuka Shah in October after eight months of conceptualisation, Jalebi embeds live seeds in everyday items, in an attempt to give back to nature. An interior stylist by profession, Shah saw the need to give back to nature once she experienced motherhood. “I wanted my son to understand how the planet works, to respect nature and not abuse it,” she says.
In a highly materialistic world, Shah wants to create a different class of consumerism. She hopes to start a trend of “green gifting”, especially during this festive season. People often have good intentions, but with the lifestyle we have in cities, “it becomes hard to instil respect for nature in children,” she says. In fact, the inspiration for the name of the brand comes from the idea that the round jalebi symbolises the circular nature of karma – what you give, you get. That is why she is focusing on creating eco-friendly pencils and papers, so that children can be introduced to the idea and importance of giving back to nature.
She launched Jalebi with a waterproof notebook, made out of stone paper manufactured from discarded plastic bottles, imported from Indonesia. No wood is used to manufacture this kind of paper. It’s a philosophy consistent with her brand – eschewing any wood products. “About four billion trees are cut every year around the world in every continent for the paper industry,” she says. That’s why Shah’s products do not use any wood in the production process. The manufacturing also requires minimal water, which means less water pollution. At Rs150 a notebook, the papers are recyclable, waterproof, insect-proof and tear-resistant.
But it’s her range of plantable products that are truly unique. Like the ‘Grow Me Plantable Pencils’, made out of newspapers. Each pencil comes with a live seed within it, that can be sown into a pot once it’s too small to use. Voila, you just got yourself a plant – and the conservation arc is complete. A deceptively simple idea with world-changing potential. Shah says about 20-24 pencils can be made from one newspaper. So just by using newspapers for making pencils cuts down the number of trees that are destroyed to make papers. The seeds can grow one of five vegetables – tomato, brinjal, celery, lettuce, chilli, or any of five Herbs – tulsi, coriander, tej, chive and dill.At Rs 200 for a pack of 20, it’s a small price to pay to improve the environment.
Another product in the range is the ‘Plantable Seed Paper’ (Rs 160 onwards), made from recycled clothes, like banians. This paper is entirely wood-free and bio-degradable. Each sheet is embedded with live seeds that can grow into flowers or vegetables – from tulsi to tomatoes. Upon request, Jalebi can even manufacture special sheets to help you grow marigolds, chillis or even wild flowers. They also offer ‘DIY Grow Me Kits’– a pack of coir pots, coco peat coins, ‘Grow Me Paper and Pencils’, so you can have the entire Jalebi experience in one shot. It’s all available at Levitate at Indiranagar and Fancy Chilli at HSR Layout, ranging from Rs 150 to Rs 3,000.
The possibilities are endless. You can have ‘Grow Me Plantable’ cards, bookmarks, coasters, bags and boxes – if you so desire. Customers are loving it. Take Bhavin Shah (23), who bought a set of Grow Me pencils at an exhibition in Mumbai in early October. Delighted, he recounts how he was able to grow coriander, chilli and beans from a set of pencils. Renuka Shah is thrilled. “This Diwali season, we sold 33,000 Jalebi bookmarks. I guess green gifting is already catching on,” she hopes. Why wouldn’t it? Throwing a pencil stub into a pot and watching it sprout into new life sounds like fun.
* An average-sized tree can make about 1,70,000 pencils. Approximately 82, 000 trees are cut each year, to meet the annual demand of about 14 billion pencils. On an average, 56 million newspapers are sold daily. If we turn 125 days’ worth of newspapers, we could satisfy the world’s pencil requirement without cutting down any trees
* One tonne of uncoated virgin (non-recycled) printing and office paper uses 24 trees
* One tree makes 16.67 reams of copy paper or 8,333