Sowing the seeds of a nation

Seed flag to replace plastic flag on the occasion of Independence Day

As the prime minister raises the Indian flag over the Red Fort on Wednesday, a Delhi-based engineer proposes a different way to celebrate the tricolour: plant it in the ground.

In the hopes of eliminating needless waste and preparing the way for a greener India, biotechnology professional Krithika Saxena, 24, has produced and sold an estimated 15,000 seed-paper flags in just three weeks. 

Each 2X3” rectangle contains up to 70 tomato and green chilli seeds embedded in a base of recycled cotton. 

"Everyone buys flags for the day, but nobody cares once the 15th is over. So, you usually find the flags on the road and dustbins. It adds up to a lot of wastage," Saxena said. Plastic wastage — that is. Roads speckled with discarded flags are an all-too-common post-holiday scene, offering insult to mother India and mother nature alike. The Ministry of Home Affairs even issued an advisory on Monday against the use of plastic flags; the advisory encouraged the use of paper flags and warned against throwing flags on the street. 

Saxena saw an even better solution. She hand-produced seed paper for her first 1,000 flags using cotton discarded by garment-making factories, but she was quickly outpaced by popular demand. When word spread on social media, Saxena hired a seed-paper distributor and recruited someone to help her with the printing process. "Normally, when you buy an Indian flag, you get it for a rupee or two, so I thought I would have to convince people to buy it. On the contrary, when this message started to circulate, I started getting thousands of calls," she said. 

Saxena sold flags to corporations, schools, living societies and individuals. She personally distributed flags to patrons throughout Delhi and shipped many more to customers in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Lucknow and Bengaluru, where Saxena estimates she sold 3,000 flags. Saxena told DH that she plans to spend the national holiday distributing food to the hungry. 

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