I first came across PHOOL last year around Diwali when one of my sister’s friends from Varanasi gifted us their luxury incense sticks and cones. What fascinated us the most was that it was made entirely out of upcycled flowers. The earthy packaging was reminiscent of the ghats along the river Ganges. Growing up on the same road as that of a temple, I was aware of the role of flowers in sacred practices but as someone trying to be more sustainable in my ways, I wondered if the problem of temple flowers was as big as I had imagined. So, when I discovered PHOOL, I couldn’t help but delve deeper into understanding how the brand came about.
Kanpur-based Ankit Aggarwal’s brainchild PHOOL came into existence after a visit to the ghats with his friend at his hometown. Commenting on the polluted nature of the Ganges, he realised the problem of temple flowers. Every year, 8 million tonnes of temple flowers are discarded from temples and mosques across the country, thus polluting the rivers and harming the ecosphere. PHOOL, which is India’s first solution to the problem of temple waste, has managed to upcycle more than 2753 metric tonnes of temple flowers using organic vermicompost methods. They specifically employ flowercycling – a technology that is used to recycle flower waste. PHOOL, in an attempt to preserve the Ganges, has created fragrances, incense sticks and cones that are 100% organic, charcoal free and sustainable, thus offsetting 11 tones of pesticides along the process.
Not only is the brand sustainable, but it also stands out as a supporter of Dalit women’s cause. All the flowercyclers at PHOOL are women from the marginalised communities, most of whom were previously considered ‘untouchables’ in their communities due to their profession (manual scavenging). By employing women from this section of society, not only is PHOOL providing them with financial security, thus allowing them to send their children to schools and helping them break out from the vicious cycle of unemployment that plagues manual scavengers, but it is also giving them a platform to live dignified lives with respect and confidence.
PHOOL has also expanded into the field of bio-packaging by coming up with a sustainable and cheaper alternative to Thermocol called Florafoam. Florafoam is 100% biodegradable, durable, mouldable, high performing, and can be buried in your garden post use. As of now, they are involved in researching techniques of flowercycling for creating bio-leather, an ethical and humane alternative to animal-based leather.
Image Credits: PHOOL
If you enjoyed reading this article, we suggest you also read: