What happens to your puja offerings? Here’s an initiative to dispose of ritual residues in an environment-friendly way

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Published: July 1, 2019 6:17:52 PM

The leftover of our prayer offering process is a big issue to dispose of and in the fast-moving life to give it proper disposal could be tough. Here is how this initiative will help you.

Puja Residue (source: DisposeWell )Leftover of Puja process (source: DisposeWell )

It is a fact that plastic is present in everything we use and that it is a reason our planet is choking with pollution. India is a country of many faiths and believes and all of us have our ways to pray to the god and methods to make god(s) happy. But amidst all this, we forget to protect God’s most precious gift to us, that is our Earth.

The amount of plastic used for packaging various stuff used in prayers at religious places is quite high as every single material is packed in it and is one of the major sources of plastic pollution. While we pray to our god to keep us safe we are putting ourselves in danger by using plastic. And even if we use plastic in spiritual places, we must dispose of the plastic properly.

DisposeWell, an organization concerned about the environment started an initiative of properly disposing of the waste that is produced during religious rituals. The organization collects wastes remains of household prayers and then processes the remains by segregating plastic waste and organic waste. The initiative was to make sure that the residue did not pollute the environment and also gets the pious treatment as it is related to faiths of many

We all are aware of the fact that, at religious sites, authorities have no options but to dump the residual material that is offered by devotees and though it should be treated more piously but is dumped as general waste to garbage collectors. This might pain the faith of people if it comes to limelight but the authorities are left with no choice.

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This issue was something that concerned Chetna Katyall Sundaram, Co-founder of DisposeWell and she went on to start this initiative after thorough ground research. They treated leftovers of the rituals in a way that respects the sentiments of devotees and also down not harm the environment.

Financial express online reached out to the Co-Founder & CEO of DisposeWell, Ms. Chetna Katyall Sundaram, and talked to her about the initiative.

What is the aim of your organization behind such an initiative? A brief of the basic idea behind DisposeWell.

DisposeWell was born out of our concern for a deteriorating environment, ever increasing landfills and water contamination due to Puja residue or wastage. We were pained to see people leaving their Puja residue in temples or below trees. It amazed us that people perform puja at home with such devotion but how can they be so careless to leave the residue to deteriorate like this? We started out by cleaning a few trees in our locality and conducting research in around 500 temples as to what they do with this residue. We were shocked to find that it was a big pain area for temples also and the temple running authorities had no choice but to dispose of it by handing over to garbage collectors. This way the pious puja residue was reduced to no better than garbage. A few like-minded people came together and we tried cleaning the trees and making compost from organic collectors waste at our home itself. Soon, we started getting requests from people to do it for them also hence we thought of doing it professionally.

What are the areas you operate in?

The service was initially started from West Delhi but soon spread to Delhi NCR by word of mouth. People started calling us as now they knew of a responsible way to dispose of their puja residue. Four of us have pooled in finances as it involves spending on the processing of organic waste as well as the collection team remuneration.

A brief about the process of collection, “disposal” and payment.

We collect puja residue from households, up to four times a month, depending on volume per household. Then the plastic is segregated from the wastage, cleaned and recycled. However, the organic waste is converted into compost using machines. Token money of Rs 99/- per month is being collected as of now to meet the expenses. Any shortfall to meet the expenses is being invested by us for the social cause.

What are the monetary figures related to the growth of the Company? Any affiliation or certification from the government or recognized bodies.

It all started out as a social activity. However, company formation has been recently done. Presently, we have a customer base of around 150 people from Delhi NCR. We have been getting requests from other parts of the country too. We plan to reach almost 2,000 households by the end of September 2019.

What is the process of filing a request for residue collection? Do you have a mobile application? What are the payment methods that you accept?

The registration form is available at our website disposewell.in. Customers can pay online using PayTM or by cash. A mobile application is under-development. We will have the best technology run the operation smoothly as the numbers go up.

What are the future plans for the company?

As we are getting requests from many cities by virtue of our customers sharing it on social media, we may plan to start at least in Chandigarh, Jaipur, and Lucknow first.

We started this initiative with a lot of hope to create awareness about the environment. The response has been overwhelming so far. We are working tirelessly with the aim of giving a cleaner India to our future generations as well as creating jobs through this initiative. We are looking forward to a lot of support from people to make this happen.

The thought of giving well-mannered treatment to the leftover residue of our spiritual offerings in itself is a commendable task and adding to that putting them to organic use it what is required. The fact that we are concerned about praying for our betterment but least concerned about the damages that we do to our gift from God in the process is worrying and we should be more aware and concerned about it.

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