All of us have licked our halwa bowls, ice cream-covered spoons and even plates at some point. Since it is considered a bad table etiquette to lick our cutlery, we have been rightly reprimanded as well.
But what if there was a way to gulp down your cutlery after finishing a particularly delicious meal?
Imagine eating your favourite chocolate ice cream with a spoon in a bowl that is made entirely from chocolate. Or simply relishing the spicy-flavoured crunchy spoon after drinking the mouth-watering bonda soup.
Sounds too good to be true, no?
Turning this desire into reality is Bengaluru-based startup, ‘Gajamukha Foods’. They manufacture eco-friendly, zero-waste edible cutlery under the brand name, EdiblePRO.
Who would have thought that a plate could be a sweet dish by itself!
Developed as a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic tableware like spoons, cups, bowls, EdiblePRO products are nutritious that can be eaten or disposed of in a compost pit. It will take a week for them to biodegrade, as opposed to plastic which takes nearly 500 years.
The startup, founded by Shaila Gurudutt and Lakshmi Bheemachar, offers more than 80 variants in terms of designs, flavours, colours, and textures at affordable rates.
It was a shared passion for the environment that drove ex-IBM employees, Shaila and Lakshmi to quit their jobs and launch the venture in 2018.
“We are all aware of the damage single-use plastic cutlery items can cause to the environment and water bodies. Plastics last for hundreds of years that can affect your health in more ways than one. Being an eco-conscious person, I always wanted to introduce eco-friendly alternatives in the food industry. EdiblePRO is our way to reduce plastic usage,” Shaila tells The Better India.
Lakshmi echoes her partner’s sentiments, “After working for nearly 28 years in a 9-5 job, I wanted to make a difference to society. We have all taken environmental resources for granted, and it is high time we give back. With that intention, I joined Shaila.”
The bootstrapped startup had humble beginnings. The founders spent nearly a year on research and development. They were guided and supported by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) – DFRL.
From making products that were soggy to ones that weren’t easily breakable, Shaila experimented with several concoctions of homemade flours and other ingredients.
It was only after the cutlery samples were approved by an FSSAI-certified laboratory in Bengaluru, that they officially registered the company.
Why You Should Opt For EdiblePRO
The startup adds no artificial colours or preservatives, thus making all their finished products 100 per cent natural. They use the natural colours extracted from vegetables and fruits like beetroot, carrot, and spinach.
All the products are made from millets, grains, pulses and spices and directly sourced from local farmers. This makes their cutlery rich in fibre and protein.
The facility is based out of Palanahalli and employs rural women. They follow a process of ‘grain-to-finished product’, which increases the shelf life of the product. The women strictly avoid adulteration in ingredients and the formula.
There are two major products, that have a shelf life of six months – for meals and snacks. Though the tableware, including spoons, knives, fork, bowls, plates, cups, etc can be eaten directly without any cooking, they are sturdy enough to last.
For example, it will take 1.5 hours for the spoon to ripen once dipped in the soup. Among all variants, the chocolate spoons are the most popular as they cater to all age groups.
Recently, the startup introduced teddy-bear shaped chocolate spoons and alphabet-shaped cutlery for kids.
In terms of flavour, the startup will try its best to give you the flavour of your choice.
“We customise as per the requirements like gluten-free, colour, sugar intake, fibre, and so on. Some of the unique flavours are capsicum extracts, paan, vanilla, cinnamon, elaichi. Customers get a wide range of variety to choose from, in terms of taste, shape, size and colour,” says Shaila.
The price is anything between Rs 2-155. Though it is higher than plastic cutlery, Shaila and Lakshmi believe it is worth every penny.
“We make sure all the ingredients are authentic, natural, and nutritious. We do not believe in keeping our prices low if they justify the quality. If we claim that our products can survive in -40 degrees, they have been successfully tested,” adds Lakshmi.
EdiblePRO had started with just a spoon, and in two years, it boasts of 25 products that are sold across India and abroad.
Most of EdiblePRO’s clients are B2B, including restaurants, ice cream parlours, and wholesalers. However, they also provide customised products for large gatherings such as weddings, birthdays and so on.
Challenges & Way Forward
Lack of awareness is probably the biggest challenge the founders faced at every stage of their venture. And why wouldn’t they, in a country like India where plastic is abundant and less expensive than water.
It is nearly impossible to convince someone to buy a product valued Rs 2 for the greater good, over something that is valued in paise.
Lakshmi and Shaila were very well aware of this unfortunate reality when they entered the Indian market with their sustainable product. But their zeal to lead change remained unshakable.
“Breaking the chain of thought cannot be done overnight. We are trying our best to educate people through our products and bring about a mass impact. Even if we succeed in helping a section of society or inspire catering businesses to switch to eco-friendly cutlery, it will be a huge move,” adds Shaila, whose ultimate goal is to send her products in a spaceship and ensure that space is not covered with garbage.
As per the Central Pollution Control Board, India generates over nine million tonnes of plastic every year, of which cutlery forms a significant part. However, only 60 per cent of the plastic waste is recycled, and the rest often ends up in landfills or in oceans, severely damaging the environment.
With companies like EdiblePRO actively acting against the plastic menace by providing eco-friendly alternatives, we can make a sustainable switch for the greater good.
You can buy the products from the company’s website.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)