This Couple is Making Bengaluru Plastic-Free One Pencil At a Time

While most of us just talk about bringing about a big change in our surroundings to keep the environment clean, this couple from Bengaluru reasons that change should begin at home.

When Akshata Bhadranna and Rahul Pagad moved from Indonesia to India, they were trying to set up their house. That's when they developed an idea to avoid using plastic. Akshata says, for almost 28 years, they have lived without thinking about nature and they wanted to ensure that they don't pollute it. Therefore, they decided that no matter what, they will replace all the plastic products in their house with alternatives like glass and steel.

But it was not possible to achieve this all at once.

First, they replaced the soap dishes and kitchenware with either steel or glass. Later, they started recycling and composting leftover food. That's when they realized that being eco-friendly costs a lot of money. So they wanted to come up with affordable products so that everyone can adopt a sustainable lifestyle.

After brainstorming, Akshata and her husband decided to start their journey with Dopolgy in September 2018. Initially, they started by manufacturing pencils made from newspapers because every household, school, college, and so on needed it.

Creating the pencils

According to Akshata’s research, around six million trees are cut to make 15 million pencils every year which means that man is cutting down almost an entire forest. So they wanted to use the waste generated from paper mills to make their pencils.

While initially, they were sourcing raw materials from a supplier in Jaipur, the costs were too high. Soon, Rahul set up a manufacturing unit for paper pencils in his hometown Dharwad. Apart from being eco-friendly, they provided employment to people in Hubballi and Dharwad. While he takes care of the manufacturing unit, Akshata handles the orders received over social media and other online platforms.

They also manufacture colored pencils, but in a slightly bigger size than the pencils. About 10 color pencils cost Rs 120 and last longer than other commercially available products. They also worked with companies to customize the packaging of products.

To ensure sustainability, they provide seed paper along with the parcels. These papers have marigolds and jasmine seeds in them. They can be planted when one finishes using the paper. One can also make greeting cards and price tags out of them.

Being a small business, the duo takes only 500 to 1,000 seed paper orders. The major challenge for the couple was convincing non-eco-friendly crowds to buy eco-friendly products and finding a way to pack products in an eco-friendly manner. They had to meet several vendors and convince them to initiate packaging which can be recycled.

Further, finding tape made of paper instead of plastic and finding carton boxes that can be decomposed easily was tough for them.

After paper pencils, they started importing bamboo brushes from Vietnam and sold them to their friends, family members, and everyone else. To keep it cost-effective, the brushes are priced at Rs 80, however, the duo is working on getting the brushes sourced from China to lower the price further.

If you are interested in switching to a more sustainable lifestyle here are some important facts to know:

-       It takes over 450 years for a plastic brush to decompose, this means it decomposes much after the person who used it has passed away.

-       The handle of the bamboo brushes is made of wood which can either be used for composting or decomposing. However, the bristles are made of nylon which takes time to decompose

-       In the case of paper pencils, paper pencils decompose faster than pencils made of wood.


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Roshini Muthukumar

Roshini Muthukumar, a native of Chennai, started her career as a content writer but made a switch to journalism to pursue her passion. She has experience writing about human interest stories, innovative technology, entrepreneurs, research blogs, and more. Previously, Roshini has done internships with The Hindu, Metroplus and worked as a correspondent with The Better India.