Thooshan, an edible cutlery brand, was launched in 2021 with the aim to be a part of the growing sustainable movement in India. Ernakulam native Vinayakumar Balakrishnan quit his job as a CEO of a Life Insurance company in Mauritius to start Thooshan. The word Thoosan is derived from thooshanila or banana leaf that is commonly used as an alternative to plates in Kerala.
When Vinaykumar visited Poland, he came across a company that manufactured edible tableware. Inspired by this brand, he decided to create a similar line with his wife in Kerala. Thus, Thoosan was born.
Since both of them had no prior experience in this field, they approached the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)’s National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) in Trivandrum, seeking help. Eventually, after months of research and collaboration, they were able to figure out a sustainable model to build Thooshan.
If you are wondering what Thooshan’s edible cutlery is made of, we’ll have to go all the way to the farmlands. When crops are harvested, close to 7,000 tonnes of waste is produced, especially wheat bran and leftover rice. Most of which, goes as fodder to feed the cattle. The rest, however, gets dumped. What Thooshan has done is utilise this waste and process it into cutlery that is edible. It is also safe to consume because the entire process of production is done under sterile conditions.
In an interview with The Better India, he shared, “Both plates and straws can remain intact for up to one hour. Don’t hesitate to pour extra rasam or sip more juice. There won’t be any mess till you complete the meal. The products are microwavable too.” The cost of Thoosan’s products is also minimal, ranging from INR 3 to INR 20.
These products, if not consumed, can also be used as manure for plants. If you’ve used the plates to have a vegetarian meal, you can easily use them as cattle fodder and food for ducks and hens.
Apart from contributing to a better environment, Thooshan also empowers farmers by providing them with an opportunity to earn an external income. At the moment, Thooshan only distributes to retailers and wholesalers who don’t sell plastic items.