Communities we grow together with
We source leaves, foliage, and fiber-based disposables, empowering rural tribal women, local farmers, and their families in India that access Siali, sugarcane & Areca palm from forests and remote villages where difficulties to obtain livelihood is beyond comprehension. As much as we, an All-women owned enterprise are in the best position to fathom their immediate need for a means of living, more so during the pandemic struck times, we are equally imbibed to them to have given us this opportunity. The Releaf project is of ultimate significance that all our sisters and mothers across the globe support each other in parallel for a sustainable yet independent co-existence and progressive growth.
The Saatvik Siali community: women empowerment to the core!
Making leaf plates out of siali leaves is a primary source of income for poor tribal people living in the forests of the state. The women use the leaf of the siali creeper that is found abundantly throughout the year to stitch them together with its own stem and bamboo shavings to give it a shape of round plates. Over 70 per cent of tribal women in these districts are engaged in making and supplying these plates which are unfortunately purchased by middlemen for a paltry sum and distributed to grocery shops, small hotels in towns and cities, hundreds of temples in the state and across borders in the recent years.
These eco-friendly plates were once used largely during community feasts, but gradually got replaced by plates made of foam and plastic. “It’s huge amount for the poor tribal people, who were unaware of the importance of the leaves and the money it could fetch them. They had so long been exploited by traders, with whom they dared not bargain,” said Biswanath Tung, a villager who is spearheading the business in Kandhamal district.
The women (Kondh tribals, dalits and others), dependent on Siali leaves both for household consumption and selling purposes, decided to conserve and regenerate the forest by planting more Siali seeds after finding that there were only a few creepers left in the forest.
Recent article, Odisha: Rural Women Celebrate Siali Uchsav for Forest and Livelihood Protection : JULY 17, 2021
Arecanut palm leaf Community- not a tough nut to crack after all!
Palm leaf grows in an Areca nut tree. The Areca nut is the seed of the Areca palm, which grows in much of the tropical Pacific, Southeast, South Asia, and parts of east Africa. The term Areca originated from the Kannada word Adike and dates from the 16th century, when Dutch and Portuguese sailors took the nut from Kerala in India to Europe.
Women collect the fallen areca leaves from nearby forest areas. The Sheath of the areca leaf is then cleaned and soaked in water for approximately 15-20 minutes and shade dried for 30-40 minutes. They are then compressed to different shapes using the correspondingly shaped machines. These organic plates have traditionally been used in local villages for centuries to serve fresh food. These are made naturally, and we take extreme pride in attesting that the plate manufacturing process does not involve any chemicals. We meet all quality standards of UV-based sterilization and vacuum sealing to ensure its safe and toxin- free, hygienic and retains freshness for our body and soul.
Bagasse community: As sweet as the cane!
Sugarcane juice once extracted from the sugarcane stalk, leaves behind a fibrous material known as Bagasse. It generally becomes a waste product after the juices are separated. We upcycle or make use of the bagasse that normally ends up in the landfill although biodegradable. We make wealth out of waste in order to make usable and sustainable goods by converting it to tableware. First the wet pulp is converted to dry pulp board, the substance is then mixed with an anti-oil and anti-water ecofriendly agent in a Pulper to make the substance sturdier. Once blended, the mixture is piped into a Preparation Tank and then the molding machines. The molding machines instantaneously press the mixture into the shape of a bowl or plate, creating up to six plates and nine bowls at a time. Not bad for an otherwise discard as ‘trash’ !
The finished bowls and plates are then tested for oil and water resistance. Only after the bowls and plates pass those tests can they be packaged and ready for consumers. The completed packages are filled with plates and bowls to be used for picnics, cafeterias, or any time there is a need for disposable tableware. Tableware that truly enriches everyday lives and provides peace of mind for the eco-conscious. The plates and bowls are 100% biodegradable and can completely break down in 90 days in a compost facility.
We, at Releaf Solutions feel grateful to have this opportunity to grow alongside while supporting rural India by providing employment, manufacturing and distributing sustainable products keeping in view of single-use plastic and paper-based pollution globally. We follow Fair Trade practices, following an integrity-based value chain system making profit with purpose a default, and this is one of our core company values that as a matter of fact differentiates us.