Published: 01st September 2019
This 26-year-old Gujarat entrepreneur is creating 'green' Ganeshas from artificial jewellery waste
Binish Desai, a social entrepreneur from Gujarat, is doing his bit for the environment by creating eco-friendly Ganesh idols from artificial jewellery waste
Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi, as it is popularly known, is on September 2 this year. It is celebrated with fervour and joy all over the country, especially in Maharashtra that honours the birth of our most favourite elephant-headed deity Lord Ganesha. However, behind all this glitz and glamour, almost 2,033 metric tonnes of waste is left behind every year after the idol immersion. Bappa's exit is followed by a trail of waste which is hardly decomposable and thus ends up in dump yards or water bodies. Thus, it is necessary to instil the idea of going green and creating eco-friendly idols that wouldn't harm the environment. This 26-year-old eco-warrior from Gujarat is helping us switch to the idea of making 'green' Ganeshas by creating eco-friendly idols from artificial jewellery waste.
Starting from the idol's homecoming to the end — visarajan (immersion), Binish Desai, a social entrepreneur, also commonly known as the 'Recycle Man of India' makes sure that the entire Ganesh Chaturthi celebration is environment-friendly and sustainable. "We work with different types of waste materials and come up with eco-friendly and economical solutions to the country's waste disposal problems. During the making of artificial jewellery, glass beads are grazed, leaving behind powdered waste which is non-recyclable. Typically, jewellery manufacturers discard this jewellery waste, which eventually ends up going to the landfills. We tested and found that a special kind of binder can be used to mould this powdered substance into idols or other items. I have always wanted to do something with eco-friendly idols as the regular ones, mostly made out of Plaster of Paris when immersed causes a significant amount of environmental pollution. Then I thought how about making Ganesh idols as I saw a growing trend of switching towards eco-friendly idols," says Binish.
What is way more interesting in this entire process is the fact that when you buy this eco-friendly Ganesha, you can give it back to Binish's company, who will use the leftover materials to help build bricks that will be in turn used to build houses or spaces for the needy. Explaining the process, Binish says, "From conception to immersion, the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi has been divided into four steps – homecoming, visarjan, repacking and repurposing. The first step of homecoming involves bringing eco-Bappa home and celebrating with great gaiety and fervour. Eco Ganesha comes with a visarjan bag that will come handy during visarjan. To not pollute water bodies, we suggest immersing the idol in a tub filled with water and then packaging it in a visarjan bag. One can either send us the immersed idol or we can arrange pickup. Since the idol is not made of soluble material, it is easy to repack and send it to us."
Once Binish and his team receive the idol, they start the process of repurposing, which means that an idol is upcycled into memorabilia — candle stand, photo frames, lampshades etc and returned to the user. And some of the leftover material will also be used to make items like bricks in order to help build spaces. Eco Ganesha will be made available for the public online from next year. For the upcoming Ganesh Chaturthi, the eco-warrior is gifting eco-friendly idols to his family and friends.
Speaking of how long it takes to create each idol, Binish says, "Receiving the material to making the final idols takes a day and a half. It also takes another extra day to dry and to paint it. The idol is painted using three colours – red, ochre yellow and light purple or crystal. Since all three colours are derived from flowers, they are environment-friendly too. The entire idol is made out of waste. On an average, 16 kg of waste is used in making of a regular size Ganesha idol." Binish and his team procure the jewellery waste from Surat, where various industries give out this kind of waste material. In terms of pricing, the idols will range between Rs 1,800 (small ones) and Rs 12,000 (larger ones).
Founder of Eco Eclectic Technologies, a Gujarat-based company that creates products from waste, Binish has already produced over 150 products, derived from 57 different types of waste and it is still growing. Apart from eco-friendly Ganesh idols, his company also creates furniture from recycled waste.