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Thursday, December 01 2022
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Recycling temple waste to spread fragrance gets UN award

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Katowice (Poland): Indian group Help Us Green that gives marginalised women the chance to earn livelihoods and be respected in their communities through collecting temple ceremonial flowers tossed into the Ganges and turning them into sustainable incense, received a UN Climate Action Award.

Fifteen game-changing initiatives in 14 countries were honoured as winners of the award at a special ceremony at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 24) in this Polish city on Tuesday evening.

The Momentum for Change award, spearheaded by UN Climate Change, showcases some of the most practical and replicable examples of what people are doing to address climate change.

This year’s winning activities range from an app that promotes the fight against food waste to a government that is taking 100 per cent responsibility for its greenhouse gas emissions.

A UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) post says Help Us Green, which is based in four cities of Uttar Pradesh and got the award in the Women for Results category, is doing its part to clean up the Ganges by recycling flowers from temples and mosques.

Over eight million tonnes of flowers are discarded in the river every year for religious purposes. This is contributing to the pollution of the Ganges, which provides drinking water for over 420 million people.

Help Us Green has come up with the world’s first profitable solution to the monumental temple waste problem: flowercycling.

Women working with Help Us Green collect floral-waste daily from temples. The waste is up-cycled to produce organic fertilizers, natural incense and biodegradable packaging material.

Till date, 11,060 metric tonnes of temple-waste has been flowercycled and 110 metric tonnes of chemical pesticides that enter the river through temple waste have been offset.

So is the income of 73 manual scavenger families has increased at least six-fold. A total of 365 families have been impacted by Help Us Green through increased living standards and stable incomes.

By 2021, Help Us Green, which plans to expand to Bangladesh, and Nepal, aims to provide livelihoods to 5,100 women and recycle 51 tonnes of temple waste daily.

By Vishal Gulati

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