Let’s get introduced to a young girl who developed an alternative to plastic grow bags that harm nature. Srija, a Class IX student who hails from the Gadwal district in Telangana, is now on cloud nine after her environment-friendly idea grabbed people’s attention.
Every year the students of Zilla Parishad High School in Chintalkunta participate in the annual sapling planting drive. In 2020, when Srija was digging the soil to plant a sapling, she found a plastic bag. This triggered Srija to think of a sustainable solution to raise seedlings.
She researched and brought about a biodegradable planter made from groundnut shell pulp. In the Gadwal district, groundnut cultivation is in abundance. The shell of the groundnut is an agro-waste. The shells are crushed into a powder and used as an energy source or made into pulp to use as manure. The shells are rich in phosphorus and calcium. It can retain water and disintegrate slowly.
Srija managed to make a prototype of the plant by obtaining shells from a nearby mill. She grounded them in a mixer, added water to make it into a pulp and then moulded it with the help of a water bottle to form the shape of a cup. Her first attempt was a failure as the planter was too fragile. But, she made the planter sturdy by adding some natural ingredients. In it, she added some soil and planted a neem sapling. In 20 days, the planter disintegrated into the soil.
Srija was awarded the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Innovation award for coming up with a sustainable solution that can eliminate the use of plastic. Her idea was validated by the T-Works, Telangana, who offered a prototype design for machinery that can help to increase production capacity. Now, Every day Srija makes five to six planters. So far, she has successfully planted 80 saplings. But with the machinery, she can increase production capacity and make 10,000 planters. Srija is only 14, but her thoughts are beyond her age and her innovations are extraordinary.