Heroes have no caste, creed, color, or age especially when it comes to protecting our environment. And a 14-year old Telangana girl is the perfect example of this.

Srija Augustine, a class 9 student of the Zila Parishad High school in Chintalkunta, Gadwal district, Telangana has come up with a sustainable solution of biodegradable pots that are made from groundnut shells that take less than 20 days to decompose.

With each passing day, the planet`s condition is deteriorating. Humans tend to forget that without a balanced environment the survival of any living being is impossible. With increasing sea levels, climate change, an increasing number of earthquakes, droughts, landslides, floods, and forest fires, the importance of environmental protection is vital more than ever.

When Srija A took part in the annual sapling planting school drive-in March 2020, she received the shock of her life. While digging the soil to plant a sapling, she discovered a plastic bag after having dug a few feet underground.

Speaking of her experience, Srija describes, “I immediately realized this was from one of the earlier sapling-drives. This could continue every year so I began to think of a sustainable solution to raise seedlings.”

This young innovator immediately decided to find a solution and after a few months of research, Srija came up with an innovative biodegradable solution. This 14-year old young girl made a biodegradable planter made from groundnut shell pulp.

Srija, who hails from the Gadwal district in Telangana knows the prevalence of groundnut cultivation is very common in her region.

Groundnut shells that are also referred to as agro-waste are ground into a powder and used as an energy source. It grows on the upper-most layer of the soil and has the power to retain water. These shells are also made into a pulp and used as manure. The shells can disintegrate quickly and are rich in phosphorus and calcium.

Srija took help from her mentor and Math teacher, Augustine P, and managed to make a prototype of the planter. She went to the mill located near her home for the procurement of the ground shells. She ground them at home, added water to make it into a pulp, and molded it in the shape of a water bottle to form the shape of the cup.

But as the planter was too fragile, she failed at her first attempt. Following that she reached out to her mentor professor Augustine. He helped her by adding some other natural ingredients into the pulp to provide sturdiness.

Once the planter was sturdy enough; she buried it underground at school and monitored it regularly. It took less than 20 days for the planter to decompose.

Srija A. is soon going to get a patent for the groundnut shell pot that she created. Srija was awarded a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Innovation award in the category of innovation by school children in September 2020 for her creative and sustainable solution that can help to reduce plastic usage.

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