In 2012, the Mangalore City Corporation banned the manufacture, sale, and distribution of plastic bags. Other Indian cities and provinces have followed suit, and the country as a whole considered a ban back in February of this year.

Which sounds like a good thing (and it is, for the environment), but local entrepreneur Ashwath Hegde knew that not everyone would be able to afford the available alternatives. So he did what anyone would do – he spent four years knee-deep in research and emerged with EnviGreen – a company that produces organic, biodegradable, eco-friendly bags.

Photo Credit: The Better India

The bags are made from 12 ingredients (like a cake!) – potato, tapioca, corn, starch, vegetable oil, banana, and flower oil, among others – so don’t be fooled even though they look very similar to their plastic predecessors. If you place an EnviGreen bag in a glass of room-temperature water, it will completely dissolve in a day (in boiling water, it will dissolve in just 15 seconds). The bags will biodegrade in less than 180 days, so they can be tossed without worry, and – this is the best part – they’re edible. Which means that if an animal (or marine life) happens to ingest them, they would be perfectly fine.

Amazing, no?

But wait. It gets better.

Photo Credit: The Better India

Even the process for making these bags is completely chemical free.

“We don’t use any chemicals at all. Even the paint used for printing on the bags is natural and organic. And the cost of one EnviGreen bag is about 35% more than that of a plastic bag, but 500% less than a cloth bag.”

And he puts his mouth where his mouth is (or something), and has even drank the water that dissolved one of his bags to prove that it’s safe.

Hegde’s claims are backed up by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, which conducted several tests to ensure the bags contained no plastic before approving their use. They don’t melt, drop, or release any toxic fumes when burnt, and the results have been verified by both the Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and the Sriram Institute for Industrial Research.

Photo Credit: The Better India

Hegde has set up a factory in Mangalore City and he plans to source his materials from local farmers. At the moment, the bags are not available in India, but are in Qatar and Abu Dhabi. They will be in India soon and, with cities like Los Angeles already banning plastic bags in the U.S., hopefully they’ll make their way across the world soon.

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h/t: The Better India