JOURNEY FROM PENS TO TREES

Lakshmi Menon

WE all have lost pens at least once. This age of disposable make pens such an insignificant object and we don’t even worry if we lose them because we buy a new one. Have you ever wondered what happened to all those hundreds of pens that you used? Well they all are adding up to the non- bio degradable waste. In US alone 1.6 billion pens are thrown away each year. This plastic cannot be recycled easily like plastic bottles and bags because they contain metal content and residual ink.What can we do about this increasing waste caused by disposable pens? Lakshmi Menon a 43 year old woman has come up with an answer for this question. She runsPURE Living (Products Up-cycled Recycled and Economised), a Kerala-based social enterprise that makes disposable pens from paper that grow into trees when disposed. Elderly and differently abled women in this organization up cycles paper waste from printing press and develops these plant able miraculous ROLAPENA.

Laksmimenon has completed her degree in home science. She because of her creative skills has worked as a jewellery designer at New York fashion week. While recalling from where this idea emerge Lakshmi said,

“During my visits to Kerala, I used to teach crafts to orphaned kids. During one such visit, I taught them how to roll paper and make pens out of them. This was a product that I used to make and sell at an art gallery in San Francisco. It was during this workshop with children, that I had the idea of embedding seeds in the paper pens to make them a perfect eco-friendly solution to the menace of disposable plastic pens. That is when I decided to start PURE Living.”

She has employed women for this cause because she feels with the purification of environment she can also help women to grow.PURE living started in 2012. It has sold over 1.5 lakhs pen in this three years. Besides Rolapenathe another product taken up by PURE living is Wicksdom. Lakshmi tells us,

“The Wicksdom initiative creates lamp wicks rolled by impoverished senior citizens abandoned at poor old age homes. The wicks are sold to individuals and organisations, and the entire money goes to their makers. Through these two initiatives, we have had the opportunity to not only provide livelihood to many women and senior citizens, but also restore in them a sense of accomplishment and dignity.”

In one production unit of PURE living you see many women working. Even 92 year old grand mom of Menon is seen segregating the caps for different size of pens. As their pens are handmade they are a little costly. Lakshmi for these says,

“Our pens cost Rs 12 when compared to the disposable pens that are sold in market for Rs 3. We can’t compete with them over price, but those who understand the value we add, prefer our products.”

 Lakshmi believes that she can bring a change through pure living. She said,

“There are around 45 lakh school going students and over 10 lakh college students throwing away at least three pens a month in our state. That is 1.65 crore pens a month. Add to it a literate population of 3.2 crore. We are speaking of tens of crores of pens getting buried in our lovely green state every month.”

Since June 2016 Lakshmi is focusing on marketing and with this there has been a raise in demand for her product. She has planned to start an initiative called #Pendrive under which she has planned to educate general public especially students that how this disposable plastic ppens are bad for our environment.

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About the Author

Aiswarya Sriram
A Bachelor of Mass Media by Education and an avid learner by passion. Excited about startup ecosystem, she chose to live the life of an entrepreneur. She is currently the Editor at IdeapreneurIndia.com