Phool and Kheyti from India are among 15 worldwide projects in the running to receive a £1 million award at the second annual Earthshot Prize awards ceremony next month.
Phool is a floral waste project from Uttar Pradesh which converts flowers dispersed into the holy river Ganges into sustainable leather called Fleather and Kheyti is a greenhouse-in-a-box solution for small farmers from Telangana.
The 2022 shortlist, which covers groundbreaking solutions to the biggest environmental challenges, follows last year’s winning project from Delhi – Vidyut Mohan led Takachar, which won the prize in the “Clean our Air” category for its cheap technology innovation to convert crop residues into sellable bio-products.
Prince William said: “The innovators, leaders, and visionaries that make up our 2022 Earthshot finalists prove there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of our planet.
“They are directing their time, energy, and talent towards bold solutions with the power to not only solve our planet’s greatest environmental challenges, but to create healthier, more prosperous, and more sustainable communities for generations to come.”
Five winners from the 15 worldwide projects will be announced in Boston next month, each receiving £1 million to develop their projects. The Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Kate, are set to meet the finalists and winners at the awards gala in Boston, US, on December 2.
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Phool & Flowercyclers
Phool was born soon after the festival of Makar Sankranti in 2015 when Founder and CEO Ankit Agarwal saw local temples dumping used flowers into the water, their pesticide coating poisoning the river Ganges.
Agarwal said: “We began life with a simple idea: to clean up India’s holiest river. In the process, we’ve discovered a material growing on our factory floor that could one day replace animal leather for good. Sometimes ground-breaking ideas come from unlikely situations, and we want to thank the Earthshot Prize for recognising ours.”
At first, Phool collected the floral waste and turned it into incense sticks. As they did, a thick mat-like substance began to grow over the unused fibres lying on their factory floor. This mat, they realised, could be turned into a sustainable alternative to environmentally damaging animal and plastic leather – now called the new material Fleather. The company today employs over 163 female “flowercyclers” from the Dalit community to collect waste flowers and in time, they hope to employ 5,000.
“With agreements to supply to fashion giants, that ambition is justified. Seven years ago, Ankit Agarwal saw worshippers poisoning their holy river. Today, Fleather has turned the tide, cleaning the river and helping those who worship it too,” the Earthshot Prize notes on Phool – shortlisted in the “Build a Waste-Free World” category.
Kheyti & Greenhouse Effect
Kheyti Co-founder & CEO Kaushik Kappagantulu launched his start-up to help some of India’s nearly 100 million small-hold farmers, among the poorest people on the planet and the most affected by climate change. Kheyti's greenhouse-in-a-box offers shelter from unpredictable elements and destructive pests and the startup also trains and supports farmers to ensure their greenhouse is as effective as possible.
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“The world depends on its small-hold farmers and yet their lives are amongst the hardest on earth. Our Greenhouse-in-a-Box is empowering farmers in India today. The steps we have already taken at Kheyti are now building to change farmers’ lives at scale,” said Kappagantulu, who has been shortlisted in the "Protect and Restore Nature" category.
Plants in the greenhouse require 98 per cent less water than those outdoors and yields are seven-times higher. Ninety per cent cheaper than a standard greenhouse, they are more than doubling farmers’ incomes, helping them invest more in their farms and their children’s education. Using less water and fewer pesticides, they are protecting the planet too.
Today, 1,000 farms have a Kheyti greenhouse, but this is just the start. By 2027, Kheyti wants 50,000 farmers to have a greenhouse-in-a-box.
*Info: Earthshot 2022