THE CROAK is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial.
Designing a plastic free world
This is how we will slowly shift our dependence on plastics - one product at a time. eCoexist is proud to share with you our latest  exploration into the use of biodegradable materials.
DEVALAYA: A paper temple.

For the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, Indians have been using a lot of plastic and thermocol to decorate their Ganesh idols. They make temporary structures using these materials , which after the festival is over, all become waste. As these materials are non biodegradable they end up in landfills, or float down the river or get burnt to dispose them off. But the original concept behind the Ganesh festival was that we let go of the diety and allow it to merge into the earth again. While we now see several solutions to the idols, there are not too many replacements for thermocol temples. 

eCoexist invited Divya Jyoti, an architect based in Pune and Udit Bansal, the founder of Corugami who works with corrugated paper products to enter into a design process with us. We decided to make a corrugated paper temple, that could be used again and again , year after year, and which at the end of its lifespan would be totally biodegradable. Manisha Gutman, from the eCoexist team led the entire exercise. 

This newsletter shares with you the design ideology and process that the team followed.
The Temples of Maharashtra
Divya Jyoti is currently a partner in PMA Madhushala, an architectural and design firm based in Pune. She also is a Product Designer and started "Celebrating Architecture" series.which is about reminiscing Architectural Great works, through designing a series of products which finds inspiration from Architecture, narrates their stories through symbolising or through abstract interpretation of their forms, shapes, details, and other defining characteristics. She welcomed this opportunity to understand Pune temples and to develop a 3D folding product as she is interested in origami and pop up art. 

Divya began the exploration with a study of the temples of Maharashtra. She chose smaller humbler shrines to emulate and studied their structure and articulation. She looked at the forms they used, studied proportions and also explored the colour palettes chosen for the temples. This process allowed her to distill a vocabulary that she wanted to apply to our paper temple. 
The challenge of simplifying the style of the Pune temples into a much simpler paper model , required several iterations by Divya. We discussed size, finish and 
The potential of corrugated paper
Corrugated paper is a material that has several strengths - it combines the biodegradability of paper with the strength it gains from the folded flutings within the paper layers. It can be cut easily and when stuck together the papers can make a solid block as well. 

Udit Bansal, who inherited a corrugated paper industry from his father, is also a passionate advocate for reforming the packaging industry to replace plastic with paper. He founded Corugami, to design sustainable products, spaces and retail design. Corugami designs and manufactures innovative products, packaging and spatial solutions that minimise the use of disposables especially plastic and promotes reuse and recycling. They examine design material, process and lifecycle for each of their products and aspire to make them truly sustainable. 

Udit had to take Divyas designs and translate them into corrugated paper - the brief we created for him was to design a final temple that could be put together by a child, dismantled and fit into a box that could be stored away for use every year. Corrugated paper also poses certain challenges and the three way discussion between the eCoexist team, Corugami and Divya helped to refine the product further and further. Udit also chose to design a product that uses no toxic chemical glues. He designed the joinery of the different elements to see that they fit together without requiring any additives. 
Devalaya : Version 1
Divya Jyoti and Udit Bansal assembling version1 at the eCoexist office. 
The first version of the temple was without any colour - we decided to keep the natural look of the corrugated paper and invite users to paint and decorate the temple themselves as is normal done during the Ganesh festival. We had imagined that people would be excited about having a basic structure to play with and decorate with their family. 
Watch a video of how the temple comes together...
Devalaya : Version 2
For 2019, with a  request for some colour to be used we have developed a second version of the Devalaya. This version further simplifies some of the details of the temple and adds articulation in print onto the surface of the temple. After a few more iterations, we have finalised a version where the colours are brighter and capture the vibrancy of the temples of Pune. 
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The Croak is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial. Satirical, urgent and wise the newsletter brings to your attention, topics of global environmental relevance as well as emerging encouraging alternatives. Put together by a team of passionate Nature lovers, The Croak hopes to look at the environmental crisis in its face. It is a tool to reconnect readers to Nature, through questioning and self reflection. To understand the outer environment as a reflection of our own inner state, individually and as a species. And to take responsibility for enabling change.
If you would like to contribute articles on ecology consciousness and sustainability please get in touch with us.
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