What all we can do with Coconut Leaves

What all we can do with Coconut Leaves

Hello,

Welcome to blog of the month – March 2020

This is the very first blog, a baby step towards collective intelligence, knowledge-sharing, idea collaboration platform.

Every month, we will introduce a challenge, provide a few inputs for the solution and discussion begins. Members are encouraged to comment, share their idea, help other members refine their idea and take the discussion forward all through the month.

Shall we start?

THIS MONTH’S TOPIC IS COCONUT LEAF.

Coconut, the word is derived from 16th century Spanish and Portuguese word, coco. Word coco means head or skull. The 3 holes on the coconut fruit somewhat resemble a human face, with two eyes and nose.

Having a coconut palm in the premises is of course, convenient.

Coconut palm has fibrous root system. Roots when confronted with a hard object, they grow along, instead of penetrating the object. So, the roots do not harm or endanger the foundation of the building.

It also does not block the sunlight as hardwood tree species.

Coconut is a popular ingredient for many Indian recipes. It also is favorite as garnish, along with coriander.

Probably that is the reason it was planted in such a large number, in out cities. In my native city of Pune, Maharashtra, a look at the cityscape from a hill, provides extent of it.

This all seems all good. Now let’s turn to the other side of the coin, or in this case, leaf 😊

Here is some trivia about coconut leaf.

A screenshot of a cell phone

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The leaf consists of many leaflets arranged obliquely on the mid-rib or rachis. Each leaflet is long, linear, has a strong mid-rib with narrow lamina and parallel venation

An adult palm produces 12-16 leaves each year. A mature leaf is 3-4 metres in length and can have around 200 leaflets. Leaves are shed from the palm. A leaf remains on the palm for about 3 years.

Okkay, now what is the problem exactly?

In coastal areas, leaves are used for roof thatching.

In urban area, well, with all that concrete, there are no roofs to thatch. 😊

And that’s where our challenge of the month emerges.

WHAT TO DO WITH COCONUT LEAVES?

The leaflets, if we strip away the mid-rib, can be used for mulching and composting. But stripping leaflets from id-rib is a laborious task. During leaf-fall, leaves of other trees available for the purpose anyway. So, coconut leaves are not very favorite and convenient for mulching and composting.

What is the current practice for managing these leaves?

Well, in some cities, these shed palm leaves are collected by the municipal corporation. They are sometimes sent to the shredder, if the facility is available. Shredded mulch is accommodated in the compost or is sent to the dump yard.

In absence of shredding facility, collected leaves are sent to the dump yard.

Where municipal corporation is not equipped to collect these leaves, the owner of the tree simply keeps them by road-side, on a footpath or dumps at any empty plot/ ground near-by.

Or they are simply gotten rid of by open burning.

WHY OPEN BURNING IS A PROBLEM?

Smoke is inhaled by people around. Smoke is carried by winds and reaches even people quite far from the place. Burning of dry leaves generates a large quantity of particulates. These particulates are carried by the wind. They can reach deep in lung tissue of people around and can cause

•Coughing

•Wheezing

•Chest pain

•Shortness of breath

•Long-term respiratory problems

For the people who suffer from asthma or other breathing disorder, leaf burning is extremely hazardous.

Life on earth is carbon-based. We all, i.e. all the living things are made up of carbon.

So, when any organic matter is burnt, that carbon combined with oxygen is let out in form of carbon dioxide.

If the leaves in the heap smother, i.e. they do not get enough oxygen, then Carbon monoxide is released.

Carbon monoxide is dangerously hazardous gas. It gets absorbed in blood where it reduces oxygen-carrying capacity of the Red Blood Cells (RBCs).

It also is one of the greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming. Its impact towards global warming is more than other common greenhouse gases, like Carbon dioxide and Methane.

Fire can always spread with wind. So, there is a risk of fire spreading to surrounding areas. It is risky for people and properties around. Green trees, plants nearby get damaged due to fire.

SO, OPEN BURNING OF LEAVES IS HEALTH AS WELL AS FIRE HAZARD.

Challenge for this month is “How to Many coconut leaves in manner that is not harmful to the environment and the living creatures around”.

A few solutions we have come across are below.

SOLUTION 1: CREATING BROOMS USING THE MID-RIB OF THE LEAFLET

Mid-rib of the leaflet is taken out by stripping off the leafy part. Mid-ribs are collected in a bunch and a broom is made.

PROBLEM: People who make these brooms roam around looking for the fallen coconut leaves. When they find a leaf by the roadside/ footpath, they find a place nearby to make the broom.

These places are usually on the footpath, by the roadside, by the bridges. These places are dirty, dangerous with heavy city traffic near by. With no other option, these broom-makers work in these unhealthy, dirty and sometimes dangerous conditions.

And that is not the only challenge. Once broom is made, it is upon them to sell it.

POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Can any general store (which sells brooms) offer a corner in their premises to the broom-makers and then buy the brooms from them, once it is ready? So broom-makers get to work in safe and respectable conditions, and they have assured source of income.

If such a hub is created, coconut palm owners in the vicinity could be encouraged to bring their fallen leaves at that designated corner in the shop premises.

It is a WIN-WIN situation for the broom-maker, coconut palm owner and the shop keeper.

A picture containing tool

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Image Courtesy: https://www.indiamart.com/proddetail/coco-brooms-2580423312.html

SOLUTION 2: MAKING ARTEFACTS FROM THE LEAFLETS.

Various artefacts like baskets, boxes, lanterns are made from the leaflets.

A close up of a flower

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Image Courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/KonkanHaritKranti/photos/a.402751296598158/999826886890593/?type=1&theater

SOLUTION 3: MAKING PAPER FROM THE LEAFLETS

Here is a paper suggesting this idea.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257138683_Effective_use_of_mid-rib_of_coconut_Cocos_nucifera_leaves_for_pulp_and_paper_industry_evaluating_pulp_quality

SOLUTION 4: LEAF MID-RIB/ RACHIS AS FUEL

There are many families in lower income strata, who use LPG cylinder for cooking, but cannot afford the same to warm the bath water. They are dependent on challah for the same. Chullah operates on wood. They often need to look for the fallen trees/ branches and stock up.

Can the rachis be used instead of fuel-wood? Rachis any way cannot be used for anything else. It decomposes very very slow.

Instead of it rotting away in some dump yard, can the same be made available to people who depend on fire-wood?

Here is a rocket stove designed by Mr. Niranjan Upasani. Including his comment here in the blog.

We at Sustainable Lifestyle Store and Experience Center have been working on stoves that can use the Woody part of the coconut leaf as Fuel.
We accept these Woody part of the leaf. The store can also give a discount on the products you buy in lieu of the leaves you donate at the store.
One of the sweepers at our store uses it for cooking.
We have also manufactured a ticket stove that uses this wood as fuel.
These stoves are available commercially too.

DO COMMENT, DO ADD.

LET THE BRAINSTOME BEGIN

References:

https://journals.ashs.org/hortsci/view/journals/hortsci/50/9/article-p1327.xml

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut

https://www.news-press.com/story/life/home-garden/2014/03/01/gardening-coconut-palm-roots-harmless/5902863/

https://www.bioversityinternational.org/fileadmin/bioversity/publications/Web_version/108/ch02.htm

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Shweta Tawde

    I suggest one solution. In rural area, these are used for roof thatching. Then can be used such way in slum areas in the cities also. Because in slum areas people use plastic sheets on the roof for protection in rainy season, which is harmful for environment. Except that, if they are provided these leaves to spread on their roof, it will help them to protect from rain. In rural areas these leaves are nittted like( चटई) . So they become thick and waterproof. If they are used on the roof, no water leaks from roof.
    So in slum area this can be done. After rainy season, in winter they will become dry and those people can burn it for hot water. Or it can be used to make cocopit also.
    Another importance of these leaves is that, they prohibit heat and make climate cold in summer season. So all 12 months they are useful.
    So I think in cities also in slum areas these leaves should be used like rural areas. It will help not to use plastic which is harmful to environment.

  2. Shweta Tawde

    I read the blog. Coconut leaves is a big problem in the cities. They take much more time to compost. In rural areas they are used in so many ways. In cities also they can be used like rural areas.
    In rural areas they are netted and made like mats. It is called in rural marathi ‘झापं’. These are used for thatching the roof.
    Like this they can be used in slum areas in every city. People in slum area use plastic sheets on the roof for protection from rain. These netted leaves are thick and waterproof. And so more useful.
    So I think this will be a good option for plastic sheets.
    Another use of these leaves is in summer. Because they are heat prohibited. If in summer the roof is covered by these leaves, the room temperature will remain cold, will not be hot.

  3. Mrunal Patel

    I stay in a society where there are 100 plots. Each plot has an average 1 coconut tree. So 100 trees are there in my society. We face the same problem mentioned in this blog. I thought of one solution wherein the problem of coconut leaves by the roadside will get solved and some people will get the opportunity to earn money. The scheme is as follows-
    We form a Self Help Group. {Some Government schemes are there for these group however right now we are not dependent on those schemes it may be helpful in future.}
    This group will list out people who have a coconut tree in their premises. We assure them that we will collect your coconut leaves in 48 hrs time, after getting information. One of the group members will go to the place and separate the leaves from mid-rib. That person will cut the mid-rib and make it compact for transport. We will make brooms from the useful side leaves and sell it in a wholesale market or shops or to individuals.
    This will be the first step, there are many other products we thought to make out of coconut tree. Right now we are three members working on this project. I hope to get more working members.

    1. पियुष मेहता

      Please contact me , if you need vehicle for transportation, i have transportation facility…

  4. Niranjan Upasani

    We at Sustainable Lifestyle Store and Experience Center have been working on stoves that can use the Woody part of the coconut leaf as Fuel.
    We accept these Woody part of the leaf. The store can also give a discount on the products you buy in lieu of the leaves you donate at the store.
    One if the sweeper at our store uses it for cooking.
    We have also manufactured a ticket stove that uses this wood as fuel.
    These stoves are available commercially too.

  5. पियुष मेहता

    नमस्कार सदस्या हो…
    नारळाची जी पान आहेत, त्याच्या मधल्या काड्या वापर करुन आपण दूरडी बनवू शकतो, किवा hanging pots बनवू शकतो.. जर कोणी याचा विचार केला, तर यात खूप कल्पकता आहे, आपण बांबू चे साहित्य बघतो च.. तसे च याचा उपयोग करता येईल….

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