Planting seeds of patriotism with eco-friendly flags
Celebrate the 73rd Republic Day by taking a sustainable route with these plantable flags
The annual celebrations on Indian Republic Day include events that showcase the country’s cultural diversity. Apart from the grand parade at the Rajpath, which the nation looks forward to witnessing on January 26 every year, there are smaller celebrations happening in schools, residential societies, as well as offices. The display and use of plastic flags at such events is common.
As highlighted by the Union Home Ministry, national flags made from non-biodegradable materials ‘do not get decomposed for a long time’. In fact, the home ministry, in a formal communication to all states and union territories, has also said that action must be taken to ensure that only paper flags are used by the public while attending cultural and sports events, and such flags are to be disposed of in private, consistent with the dignity of the flag.
Keeping this in mind, various organisations that focus on eco-friendly products have created sustainable alternatives such as plantable flags. These seed flags help citizens mark the occasion without harming the environment. The underlying goal is to celebrate the sentiment of patriotism by taking forward the message of a green and sustainable future.
A sustainable lead
“The idea behind plantable flags is simple: we want to eliminate the usage of plastic flags. Usually, after every celebration, we see plastic flags being dumped on the roadside [a violation of the National Flag Code]. We want to encourage people to use plantable flags instead of plastic flags,” shares Nayna Bansal (24), co-founder of Back to Nature, a Siliguri-based women-led organisation.
Back to Nature sells plantable flags made with recycled paper and cotton scraps from factory surplus textiles. These flags, which the organisation sells across Delhi-NCR, have seeds such as wildflower, tulsi, basil, tomatoes, and marigold embedded in them. They are usually screen printed to ensure that the seeds in them are not crushed. Once the celebrations conclude, these flags can be respectfully sown into the soil.
Varunavi Chauhan, founder of Paper Works, a Gurugram-based start-up that manufactures plantable products, introduced eco-friendly flags about a year ago. “On Independence Day or Republic Day, whenever we go out there are people distributing flags made of plastic. Such flags are harmful to the environment and are mostly meant for one-time use so we wanted to change that,” says Chauhan. “These [sustainable] flags have a sentimental value attached to them. After using these flags for celebrations, you will end up planting them,” she adds.
On a new track
Many individuals appear skeptical of using flags made from seed paper, despite it being a conscious alternative. Bansal shares, “People still have doubts like ‘how will this germinate?’ or ‘how will paper grow?’. This will change gradually,” she shares.
both Chauhan and Bansal also affirm that the costs of these flags are in tandem with market prices.“we don’t want people to feel that because they are making a sustainable choice, they are buying an expensive product. This is why we price the products akin to what you get in the markets,” concludes Chauhan.