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Why should coconut shells be recycled/upcycled?

Coconut Shells

75% of the coconuts produced worldwide (60+ million metric tons annually) come from Indonesia, Philippines and India together, with India being the third largest producer. In India, over 90% of the production happens in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Needless to say, the coconut tree plays a vital role in our lives and economy.  

In Sanskrit, the coconut palm is called “kalpa vriksha,” or “the tree which provides all the necessities of life.” There is good reason for that. The coconut tree - the fruit, the leaves, the bark, the wood, the roots, all of it - is utilised in a number of ways such as eating, cooking, personal care, gardening, cultivation, construction and more. It is a true zero waste plant.

The coconut fruit:

The inner part of the fruit has the coconut water and the white flesh, which is widely consumed across the country, and makes for a refreshing summer drink. The flesh also yields coconut oil, used for cooking. The husk and shells can be used for fuel and are a source of charcoal, which, being a good adsorbent, is considered extremely effective for the removal of impurities. 

Last but not the least, the husk of the coconut yields the fibrous coir - a durable, sterile, fungus resistant material used in making products with plenty of exposure to water and/or used outdoors, such as doormats, plant basket liners, brushes, ropes, rugs and upholstery stuffing. Additionally, coir is added to soil to improve water retention, becoming an important ingredient in gardening or cultivation.

If all is well, where lies the problem?

The one use of coconut shells and husks that is not so appealing, and certainly harmful, yet incredibly prevalent in South India, is that they are burnt for smoke to repel mosquitoes. In fact, a majority of the shells and husks are disposed off this way. This is a huge problem not merely from the perspective of breathing, but also because methane and CO2 are released in huge amounts. These are both greenhouse gases, with methane being over 80 times more harmful than CO2 in the short run.

At ONEarth, this is the problem we have tried to solve. We use waste coconut shells and coir to make a number of useful daily life products such as Bowls, Brushes, Money Bank, Planter and Earrings.

So far, we have successfully diverted 50,000+ kgs of waste coconut shells from burning! 

Head on to our store, and try one of our lovely coconut based products today! 

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