Thursday, October 09, 2008

'Dhonnai' - reinvented

On one of the usual lazy evenings, I was browsing through time.com, when I stumbled on to this article titled 'The Dish on Green Disposables' and contained the following opening paragraph -
"Americans trash an estimated trillion disposable plates and utensils every year; a single-use plate's useful life averages only about five minutes. For Verterra, a hyper-green New York City start-up, the solution is simple: fallen leaves and steam. That's all it takes to make the new plates and bowls Verterra hopes will soon change how Americans serve food at parties and picnics."

On went the article talking about how a person has created a biodegradable 'green' plates based on what he saw in India. And yes, as you would've by now guessed it, he has re-created our very own 'Dhonnai'. These are small disposable cups made of leaves that have been an integral part of prasadam in temples. He has created this Dhonnai out of palm leaves and has treated it with UV rays and has come out with a product that is microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe . Plus it also degrades in just 6 weeks.
Photo of the 'Dhonnai' from the product's website : www.verterra.com

While it is very good to see the world re-discovering our products and put them to better use, it is also painful to see how much we are moving away from them. Things like the Dhonnai are being ruthlessly replaced by plastics. People have started using disposable plastic cups for prasadams in temples. We even have plastic banana leaves, which according to me, completely robs the pleasure of eating on a banana leaf. The leaf itself adds additional taste to the food. Enter a big shop like Saravana stores and you'll see mountains of cheap Chinese made plastic wares on sale - more and more of these items are single-use items such as disposable plates, cups, spoons, plastic bags etc. If you walk on Ranganathan street after 10:00 pm, you can see huge 10 foot high mounds of waste plastic bags piled up in front of each shop. Now, this is not a problem only in India. Here in US, every shop gives plastic bags even for the smallest items bought. And most shops place one plastic bag inside another in order to 'reinforce' the bag, so that it can hold heavier stuff. One visit to the local grocery shop and we'll be stuck with around 10 plastic bags.

I'm not against plastics. Life cannot go on without them. But the amount of single-time disposable plastics is increasing at an astronomical rate. We should try to re-use them as much as possible or substitute these single-use 'useless' items with something more durable.

2 comments:

Rajiv said...

Yes Vijay...absolutely right when you say that we are actually going away from environment friendly ways of living in times when we should be hyper-aware of our environment.

Venky said...

Nanganallur Anjaneyar still serves His puliyodharai in dhonnai da.. thankfully..