Thursday, July 14 2016, 04:37:03
  • fatasstic
  • fatasstic
  • She Says

Sakshi Lakhotia

JWB Intern

JWB Discovers How Kritika Parwal Grows Paper Into Plants

  • JWB Post
  •  June 16, 2016


Tomato & Company is a Jaipur-based venture by entrepreneur Kritika Parwal. The firm manufactures and markets plantable paper. They promote the sustainable use of paper and have the ambition of restoring the tradition of planting trees.

Here’s the interesting talk that JWB had with the innovative businesswoman, Kritika Parwal:

What inspired you to do something for the environment and the society? 

I was studying at the Kellogg School of Management. One day, I was at a seminar, where the Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was the speaker. He was talking about how much Starbucks had grown over the years. He gave us this number – 4 million. He said, “Starbucks sells this much per day.” That is a huge number. While I was walking back to my dorm, I was thinking about the number. This is just one coffee chain, and it creates 4 million cups of trash every single day. I kept thinking about it. I did a bit of R&D.

We’ve always learnt in school that plants give us paper, but there had to be a reverse way of going about it. When I told my professor, he was quite excited about it. So, there’s a paper sleeve around the Starbucks cup. We wanted to have it made from seed paper. At first, we had no clue if the paper would be biodegradable or if the germination would stay intact.

I discussed the ideas with one of the artisans in Sanganer. They told me it wasn’t possible. I was pretty dejected about it. I was in Mumbai one time. I met the brand manager of Kissan at a party. I discussed the idea with him and then I asked him, “Why don’t you make this paper?” And he said why don’t you make it for us. At that time, I told him that I didn’t know how to make it. The next day, he called me to the Unilever headquarters, and we did some R&D. So, I came to Jaipur and worked on it. 

There’s something that had to be done about the crazy amount of litter that was thrown away. To make something productive out of it. 

Why ‘Tomato & Co.’?

The first paper we made was tomato seed paper, and so we started calling it Tomato and Co. 

What kind of challenges did you face while setting up Tomato & Co? 

Making the paper! It was the biggest challenge. The other challenge was of keeping the cost low because the first paper we made was very expensive. If it’s expensive, not many people will use it. Our daily goal is to make the paper as cheap as we can. 

What is the process of making the seed paper? 

It’s a nine-step process. Four essential ingredients, catalysts, organic and holstery shreds. 

What is the process of planting the seed paper? 

All you need to do is take the seed paper and sow it into the soil. But ensure that you cover it with a thin layer of soil and not dump it inside the soil. Then you have to water it regularly.

What variety of seed paper do you manufacture?

17 seeds inclusive of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers.

How is using the plantable paper unique or different from sowing seeds normally? 

It reverses the whole process of using paper. So when you sow seeds in the soil normally it will give you paper that biodegrades but the process is slow. However, the plantable paper will not only biodegrade quickly but also grow into a plant that gives us oxygen. 
It’s fun. It makes you curious.

Where can we buy the seed paper from? 

We do not retail as of now. Currently, we take customized orders. As long as it meets the minimum order quantity (100 A1 sizes) you can buy it from our office.

Are the prices affordable for the general public?

The seed paper are affordable but it would not replace all your paper use. Wedding invitations and cards can be purchased. 

Are the fruits, vegetables and herbs from plantable paper as healthy and safe to eat as normally grown veggies? 

Yes. It depends on the quality of the seed. For instance, one of our clients was very keen on having the high quality of tomato seeds. So the prices are very subjective. The better quality, the healthier it is. It depends on the kind of quality you are willing to pay for. 

What are your goals for the future? 

We are trying to do two things. To create a greeting cards line and paper cup out of seed paper. In the near future, we wish to sell seed paper through greeting card companies.

One reason why everybody should use seed paper.

Think about your everyday lives. Start from the morning. How much paper trash do you create every day? All of those are potential plants that you could actually grow? 

Isn’t it ironic that your surname is the same as a vegetable called ‘Parwal’ or pointed gourd? 

I have gotten this all my life. (laughs)
It’s not Parwal. It’s Parwaaal.

Which fruit or vegetable do you connect with the most?

I’m very close to tomato because of course, “Tomato & Co. But I personally like basil. It has a good smell. It grows quickly. You can use it in tea also. 

Do you like cooking or getting food cooked for yourself?

I don’t like cooking. I love baking. I am a certified sugar artist. Although I don’t get a lot of time to bake. It’s because I travel a lot. 

Has gardening ever been a hobby of yours? 

Never. It is ironic how I’ve got into it. I loved plants but never had green fingers. 

For instance, you own a garden, which member of your family would be the first to take care of it? 

My mother. 

Do you think social work can fulfill one’s needs financially?

Profit has never been my first priority, growing trees is. 

It’s like magic the way this paper grows into a plant. If you were a child, what would you want it to grow into? 

I love white chocolate. So, yes! White chocolate it is. 

Do you do something for the employment of women?

At Tomato & Company, the team requires technical employees, and we are open to everyone. However, for one of my other businesses, women who wish to rent some space will be given it for 50% whereas the men have to pay the whole rent. 

How do you feel about being a woman in the corporate sector?

It’s extremely challenging in India. It’s changing. But being a woman entrepreneur in India, it’s difficult to raise finance. Even your family sometimes doesn’t support you. Nobody takes it seriously because people plan other things for a woman’s life. It’s detrimental. It’s painful. I took up real estate in the beginning because I wanted to do something in a man-oriented industry. To change the stereotype.

If you were to write a story about your journey as a businesswoman, what would it be like? 

I am writing a book. It’s called the Suitcase story. There is this purple colored suitcase that I carry everywhere. And this suitcase speaks about my journey through life.

Contact us for your story


Leave a Comment

  • JWB along with the brand Jewel Saga bring you a selfie contest inspired by the campaign AidToMaid.