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The lesson to learn from Phool

Notes by Narsi

Come elections, we will see Temple Runs by all our politicians - it is amazing how they can get so super religious when elections are round the corner.

But once the hustings are over, so are their temple visits until the next time they really need the blessings.

But all the time, tens of thousands of temples around India have been generating an interesting type of waste - floral waste.

Unlike most other solid waste, floral waste has characteristics that should let think of it differently - it is flowers firstly, and it has a religious flavour in addition to the flowery flavour.

This was the insight that the founder of Phool had, and in the short span of a few years, he has smartly built a business around converting and upcycling floral waste into products that have significant appeal - incense sticks, incense cones, essential oils, candle votives...

When I was reading the history & story of Phool, what stuck me was how the founder had picked on a workable niche. 

Quoting Ankit Agarwal from the company web site:


It was the day of Makara Sankranti, an ancient Indian festival marking the end of the winter solstice, celebrated by bathing in the sacred waters of river Ganges. On that cold winter morning in 2015, a friend, who was visiting me at my home in Kanpur expressed an interest to see the Ghats of the River Ganges. We sat by the Ghats and amidst people performing Suryanamaskaras, we were aghast spectators to devotees drinking and bottling up the river water despite the evidently visible muck. In spite of being one of the most revered water bodies in India, we started wondering why was this river turning carcinogenic and if it was us, the worshippers, who had turned against the river.

It was easy at first to place blame on the tanneries, factories, and sewers that were indiscriminately dumping their refuse into the river. While explaining the complexity of the problem to my friend Jakub, I shrugged it away telling him nothing really can be done about it. While we gazed at the dirty water in culpable silence, we saw the colorful flowers being dumped from the temples nearby turn into mulch as they accumulated and their colors faded away into the murky waters.

Something had to be done about this...." (the italics and emphasis are mine)

You see, he saw two big pollutants - one, the pollution from tanneries and factories & sewers, by far the dominant pollutant. And then he saw flowers, possibly a fraction of the total pollution.

He picked the latter - a smaller problem, but a problem he could solve.

Imagine had he tried to do something about the industries & tanneries.

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