Wearing a mask is important. But what happens to these masks once we discard them is important too. With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc, the effect its management is having on the environment cannot be overlooked. 

Due to lack of bio-waste management, tonnes of masks, PPE kits, gloves are already choking our society. It will be too late to look for a solution if we are to wait for the pandemic to end. 

Inspired by Gandhian philosophy, 37 years old Nitin Vas is a social entrepreneur. Belonging to Pakshikere, a place just 24 kilometres away from Mangalore, Nitin is on a mission to provide sustainable, eco-friendly alternatives to products. Worried over the staggering number of disposable masks littered around, he came up with a solution. 

His social enterprise under the banner of Paper Seed Co. is creating a difference by coming up with handmade products. To reduce waste by recycling and reusing, Paper Seed Co has biodegradable masks which can grow into new plants when disposed off. 

A recent addition to the product list, the “biodegradable mask” idea triggered Nitin after watching the callous attitude of people. Throwing a mask in the water on land fields made him see the consequences. To avoid mass destruction of the environment soon, Nitin and his team came up with the new idea of ECO_FRIENDLY masks. The raw materials used in the mask are degradable and the seeds embedded in it help to grow new plants makes it an eco-friendly product. This sustainable mask is thicker, breathable with two layers of material which comprises cotton and cloth liner. The outer cover of the mask is made from cotton pulp generated out of various clothing factories and they make the inner linings from soft cotton cloth. It is thick enough and effective to prevent infection. 

“The whole idea of an eco-friendly mask is now trending not only in India but all around the globe. We get various orders from various places and my team is at their service,” says Nitin Vas.

” Every product at the paper seed that we produce is reused, recycled or handcrafted without compromising the quality of the end product. As most of our products are handmade, it provides job opportunities to women from rural villages, thus fulfilling our motive of building a better, healthier and greener planet. We use 100% recycled papers from newspapers, office papers and notebooks.,” says Nitin.

Paper seed operates on the basic idea of reduce, reuse & recycle with a firm commitment towards mother nature. Almost every product at paper seed is handcrafted and made from recycled materials with minimal exposure to chemicals.

Every product that you buy at paper seed a part of the money goes towards a greener environment and employing rural women. They are also into researching and designing eco-products mainly from scrap. Apart from biodegradable masks, Paper Seed Co. also makes seed paper, paper pencils, incense sticks and Rakhi. The organisation has been providing alternative solutions be it seed paper from recycled paper, pencils from newspapers, pens from paper, toys from paper and cardboard, the material used to make all this is extracted from the waste and used paper. 

” The journey has not been easy. The challenges were mostly in the research part as we faced a shortage in apparatus and improper infrastructure and funds. But every problem that has a solution is what we focus more on.” Nitin. Before the pandemic, Nitin’s team had 32 families working for the organisation. The organisation also witnesses the huge participation of women from the neighbourhood. All staff management is headed by Reena Dsouza. Following the footsteps of the Swadeshi Movement, they make handmade products without using large machinery. This eventually creates job opportunities for the rural tribe and youth women in the core team. The smile on the team’s face after launching a new product gives Nitin immense pleasure and satisfaction.

Written By: Archita Ghamande

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