Rolapena: Lakshmi Menon’s sustainable solution for making disposable pens

We have all lost pens at some point in our lives either in school/college or our workplaces. However, these pens are primarily made of non-biodegradable plastic and pose a huge threat to the environment. Recycling used pens is also not a feasible option as pens have some metal parts and residual ink as well.

To battle this problem, Lakshmi Menon has come up with an amazing idea and runs PURE (Products Up-cycled Recycled and Economised) Living which is an enterprise based in Kerala and makes disposable pens from a kind of paper which grows into trees when disposed. Another unique feature about her enterprise is that it employs senior citizens and differently-abled women.

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This project has been gaining major popularity since Menon started marketing it in June. Currently, Menon is also focusing on her initiative called #Pendrive through which she wants to make people aware of the damage that plastic pens cause to the environment.

“Our pens cost Rs 12 when compared to the disposable pens that are sold in market for Rs 3. We can’t compete with them over price, but those who understand the value we add, prefer our products.”

Lakshmi Menon grew up Kerala and pursued Home Science and shifted to USA to make a living.

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“During my visits to Kerala, I used to teach crafts to orphaned kids. During one such visit, I taught them how to roll paper and make pens out of them. This was a product that I used to make and sell at an art gallery in San Francisco. It was during this workshop with children, that I had the idea of embedding seeds in the paper pens to make them a perfect eco-friendly solution to the menace of disposable plastic pens. That is when I decided to start PURE Living.”

She started her own enterprise in 2012 and back then, it was a single production unit where women came under one roof to create these products from scratch.

Another very popular project by PURE called “Wicksdom” employs senior citizens to make wicks for various lamps. All the money earned by selling the wicks goes to the people who have made them. More than economic stability, it reinforces a sense of achievement and dignity amongst the makers of the wicks.

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Niharika Nandi

Author: Niharika Nandi

Aspiring start-up writer who loves traveling. I'm also a self-confessed potterhead and a professional bathroom singer who likes to bake and devour hazelnut shakes in my free time.

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