It is that time of the year when thousands of sisters and even brothers flock the markets to select a rakhi with a distinctive design.
Check out our collection of eco-friendly Rakhis for Raksha Bandhan, 2019 here!
Some prefer simple rakhis, whereas others go all out and purchase threads that scream style. Those with younger siblings often look for rakhis with cartoons.
The reason for all this effort is simply emotional. For the world, it may be a mere thread, but for most people in India, a rakhi is a symbol of protection and solidarity. Because it holds a special emotion, the person whose hand it is tied on usually feels guilty when discarding it after the festivities. I know of people who do not remove them until the threads tear off completely.
These rakhis may have been made from plastic, and chemical colours, and so, they harm the environment. But like every other problem today, this one too has an eco-friendly solution.
A handful of environment-conscious citizens across India have started making rakhis that not only protect nature but can also be grown into plants!
Here are five manufacturers of green rakhis.
And the best part? You can place an order online right here.
1. Gender-Neutral Rakhis
Gargi, the founder of Ba No Batwo, who challenged the conventional way of rakhi-making in the past by making plantable rakhis, has now challenged the ritual. The Aurangabad-based resident has designed gender-neutral plantable rakhis that all genders can buy. She has also gone the extra-mile with her online campaign #MeriBehanMeriTakat (my sister, my strength).
Explaining the concept, she says, “Raksha Bandhan has a social impact as well. Why should only brothers protect sisters? Sisters are mentally and physically strong and can deal with their own problems. They can fight for their brothers as well. Through my rakhis, I am trying to change this notion.”
You can tell the world about your sister’s special powers and strengths by participating in her campaign on Facebook, here.
As for the handcrafted rakhis, they are made from clay and infused with seeds like Karanj (Millettia Pinnata) and Golden Shower tree (Cassia Fistula). Gargi and her team use natural colours like turmeric, rice paste, and geru for the threads.
All rakhis are packed the eco-friendly way. Waste clothes are upcycled for packaging, and coconut husk and ‘chuka’ leaves (sorrel leaves) are used as cushions.
Check out Ba No Batwo’s collection, here.
2. Buy This Rakhi Kit & Help HIV Patients
Handmade and hand-painted by differently-abled individuals in Bengaluru, the profits will be donated to HIV-affected children (aged 1-10) at Infant Jesus HIV Home in Hennur, Bengaluru.
This initiative was the brainchild of Roshan Raay, founder of Seed Paper India, that manufactures seed papers.
Speaking to The Better India, he says, “We started making eco-friendly rakhis two years ago, and since then, we have been financially impacting 24 people with disabilities. This year, we wanted to make a bigger impact, so we decided to donate all our profits to people with HIV.”
The eco-friendly kit designed by Seed Paper India comes with one plantable seed (tulsi) rakhi, coco peat/organic fertiliser, coco pot planter, and an instruction card. The kit comes in a packet made from recycled paper, and can germinate in 4-6 weeks.
Last year, Roshan’s team sold around 8,000 rakhis to domestic and international customers. This year, they aim to sell 15,000.
Check out Seed Paper India’s collection, here.
3. This Brother Felt Guilty for Throwing Rakhis, So Now He Makes Eco-Friendly Ones
Awareness that stems from a first-hand experience usually stays with people, and for Saurabh, it was an opportunity to bring about a change. After graduation, he joined his family business of manufacturing ball pens. A year later, he not only left the company but also renounced plastic in his life.
“The amount of plastic that is used to manufacture a pen which will be used only once is massive. Working there was a wake-up call for me. So, I started my own company to sell eco-friendly stationery,” Saurabh tells The Better India.
His company, BioQ, has manufactured around 5-6 lakh plantable pens and pencils every month.
How did he switch to plantable rakhis? He answers, “For the last 20 years, my sister has been tying me rakhis, and every year, I feel guilty when discarding them. Since we were already manufacturing seed pens, we implemented the concept in rakhis.”
Last year, the company sold 6,000 rakhis, and this year, the aim is 15,000. Around 20 women from slums in Delhi have been roped in to manufacture the green rakhis, thus generating employment.
Check out the range of plantable rakhis made from recycled kraft paper by BioQ, here.
4. Each Thread Has A Story To Tell
Navleen Kumar, a human rights activist, was stabbed 19 times after she rallied for the rights of adivasis in Mumbai. In her memory, Gram Art has made a rakhi with 19 knots. The pink-thread rakhi with red bixa orellana seeds celebrates menstruation, while the uterus-shaped rakhi highlights the gender gap in our society.
Looking at this festival as an opportunity to educate people about social issues, Madhya Pradesh-based Gram Art has designed several such rakhis. Under the ‘Hum Kamzor Nahi’ campaign, they have collaborated with 100 rural women from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh to manufacture the seed rakhis.
The founders of the organisation had to make a tough call between losing customers and spreading awareness.
Last year, we sold 12,000 seed rakhis, and this year our goal is 20,000. We do realise that bringing topics like menstruation and designing rakhis in the shape of a uterus may disinterest our customers and we might not reach our target. But raising such societal issues is more important for us,” Lalit Vamshi, one of the founders, tells The Better India.
Check out these beautiful rakhis, each with a social message, here.
5. Sculpted with Clay and Love
Made from clay, rakhis by Abhika Creations contain special seeds of Vinca Rosea, which blooms twice a year. The organisation sells it in a kit that contains a biodegradable pot, a packet of soil, and an instruction manual. Rakhis are packed in butter paper and kept inside a corrugated box. Instead of using cello tape, which is made from plastic, they seal the box with paper tape.
Check out rakhis by Abhika Creations, here.
6. Of Newspapers & Eco-Friendly Packaging
Plantable rakhis with seeds of cabbage by Smita Bhatter offer roli and rice for tilak, soil, and a mini pot. “Every gift is special and carries memories. For some people, a gift is just another thing, but through our collection, you can gift experiences. In today’s generation, where gadgets have taken over the hearts and minds, going back to roots will make everyone aware of the needs of our environment,” Smita, founder of BySmita, tells The Better India.
Check out BySmita’s rakhi kit, here.
Take a pledge for the environment today and begin your journey by choosing eco-friendly plantable rakhis. Let the plant remind you of the lovely bond you share with your siblings and loved ones.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)