Inviting all who want to be a change agent
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This is an appeal to the collective conscious of all individuals to come together and bring about a change to make this world a better place to live. We are creating a platform where we all can become the Agents of change. We invite you to join us.
The first initiative we have undertaken is edible cutlery. It aims to address two serious problems – (1) the rapidly depleting groundwater and consequent rivers drying up sooner (2) and the ever-increasing plastic invasion.
You might be surprised to know that the main reason for groundwater depletion is over cultivation of rice. It takes 5000 liters of irrigation water to produce 1 Kg of rice. This means, for every million tons of rice rotting in the warehouse, we have put 5 trillion liters of water to unproductive use!
Two years ago (2015), the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has procured a total of nearly 50 million tons more than the buffer stock, which would eventually rot. If this much rice were not produced, the irrigation water saved could have provided our entire population with 125 liters per capita per day for 2000 days!
Such over-production of rice has become an annual phenomenon causing stress on our groundwater reserves and eventually drying up the rivers and puts huge pressures on our electricity supplies!
The money to supply the free power to produce the rice that rots in the warehouses comes from us, tax payers’ money!
The money to procure this rice under the Minimum Support Prices has come from us, the tax payers’ money.
Have the farmers benefitted from producing this much of rice? No. they are as poor if not poorer. In fact, compared to 2001 census, 2011 data shows nearly one crore farmers have given up on agriculture.
Who is benefitting from that huge quantities of rice rotting in the warehouses? What happens to the rice after it has rotted? It is lifted by the local liquor industry at throw away prices of less than Rs 0.25 per Kg, which does not even cover the cost of the gunny bags that hold this rice.
If the area under rice is brought down by 20%, the depleting trends would reverse. Since millet farmers shifted to rice cultivation due to fall in demand, our intention is to get them back to millet production, by creating demand.
Edible Cutlery – “Eat with the spoon and eat up the spoon” - made with millets aims to achieve this objective.
Obviously, the success of our mission would lie in the success of the edible cutlery market. This led us to research the competitors’ market. Since our products would be an effective alternative to plastic disposables, we began our research into this.
The findings were quite horrifying.
We all know that plastic does not biodegrade. Many of us also know that these contain chemical complexes that leach into food which are neuro toxic and even carcinogenic.
Even the so-called food grade plastic is that, where this leaching is within “permissible limits” of 45 ppm in the western market and 60 ppm in the developing world. Does it mean, it is okay if we get small amounts of cancer and if it spreads, it is not the problem of plastic? Please remember, the incidence of cancer has increased in our country by 47% in just the last 5 years!
At a practical level, it was intriguing to note that nobody ever washed their plastic cutlery before dipping into food. If we take a bunch of plastic spoons and throw in a bucket of water, we can see a thin film of oil floats along with the spoons. This is the industrial lubrication oil that is applied on the moulds so that they do not stick to the surface. When we use these plastic spoons without a prior wash, we would be licking this industrial contamination.
Another damaging finding was that that are being put to reuse. Even the high-end ice cream parlors are found to be putting these to reuse. We have documented evidences of the cutlery being picked up by the rag pickers to be supplied back to the food vendors. In the eateries under reputed brands, this job is being done by inside staff themselves. Needless to add the bacteriological contamination possible from such practices.
When we studied the food safety laws of several countries, including India, we saw, they were quite elaborate in terms how hygienic food is to be prepared, but when it comes to hygiene of the utensils served, the law is absolutely silent. Therefore, even if someone were to book these outlets, no action can be taken since the this is not illegal. It is only unethical and unhygienic.
From the market stand-point, disposable cutlery falls under a unique market segment of consumer product, where the purchaser is not the end user. Bulk purchasers of the disposable cutlery are the caterers and food vendors, to whom, price is of paramount importance. Currently, our products is priced at Rs 3.00 per piece (MRP). With scales of production, the cost would come down. Our products may be relatively expensive, but the advantages far out-weigh the cost advantage of plastic disposables, which is evident from the excellent market response we have received. We are now scaling up.
Our future initiatives - We are looking at converting the plastic carry bags littered all over into sheets by heat pressing and construct toilets and provide the much-needed succor to the disgusting truth of our country, which is public urination. We would be using this medium to create a negative marketing against plastic by stenciling on the wall with the message “this toilet is constructed with your used carry bags. Do you still want to carry food in it?”
We also are in the process of converting the crop residue into pulp to be used in manufacture of sanitary napkins and diapers, etc, instead of burning it, which is causing huge pollution and even smog like in Delhi. Burning crop residue is a global phenomenon. Converting it into useable materials is not done anywhere. We intend to pioneer here.
We have set for ourselves a mission to develop innovative ways to safeguard our planet and our health. We wish to bring all environmentally and socially conscious citizens to strengthen our initiatives.
We invite you to join us. We are creating a Multi-State Cooperative Society and if you are interested, please sign up here and write to firstname.lastname@example.org. We shall mail the details to you.
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