Homes and gardens

The peel stealer

It’s no longer just boring old fitness fuel or baby-food mush — bananas are going boutique

We’re the largest producers of bananas in the world, says the National Horticultural Board. But after we’ve eaten the potassium-rich fruit, what’s leftover is usually binned to rot. Now, researchers, farmers and entrepreneurs are putting their heads together to make everything from the pseudo-stem to the leaves work. It is possibly going to be the next bamboo, and a lot of the products are still being worked on to refine them.


It’s vegan (no animals are killed in its making, unlike silk), uses few insecticides and pesticides, and is biodegradable. The outer sheath of the plant’s stump is used. It’s difficult to find pure banana cloth in India, says C Sekhar, co-founder of Ananafit, the company behind the bamboo jeans that was in the news recently. Hence it’s used in combination with other fibres (banana forms the weft), mostly cotton, but also silk. Jainam Kumarpal, who calls himself an ecopreneur, says the fabric is rough-textured and, depending on the weaver, can be khadi-textured or even jute-like. His brand, Bhusattva, designs garments with fabrics as diverse as banana and hemp. “It is comparatively more expensive than cotton because it’s not a very strong fibre and processing needs more care,” says Dr Charu Swami, Assistant Professor, Clothing & Textiles, Department of Home Science, Dayalbagh Educational Institute Agra.

Fabric: ₹2,500 upwards, saris: ₹1,500 upwards, jeans: ₹5,000, Ananafit: ₹5,000 upwards.

Sanitary pads

Saathi pads

Saathi pads  

A safe way for the planet and your body, 100% banana-fibre pads are completely biodegradable. Regular sanitary napkins use a mix of cotton and plastic — the former uses a lot more water in cultivation than banana does; the latter is often hard on the skin. Saathi pads say their product biodegrades in six months and supports regular to heavy flow.

₹159 for a pack of eight XL pads with wings,


Low-cost handmade paper is simple to produce, but often commands a premium on the market. Paper produced from wood-free pulp (another way of saying environmentally-friendly) is also better resistant to water. Some varieties are made out of the stem and some from the leaf. “Banana fibre has a high cellulose content, plus it is a long fibre that makes for strong paper. It doesn’t tear easily, is translucent if processed well, and is strong enough to be manipulated into various shapes,” says Jenny Pinto, a studio handpaper maker based out of Bengaluru, who also sculpts it into lamps and art.

Jenny Pinto

Jenny Pinto  

₹500 for three sheets,; ₹600 per sheet, kalpanahandmade; ₹67 per tissue paper sheet, coniferhandmadepaper


“Banana is a hydrant and works well in a mask, especially if you use it with honey in equal parts. If you find it too gooey, use it over a gauze and take off after 15-20 minutes. Banana in combination with finely ground oats or sugar is a good scrub,” says Dr Rashmi Shetty, Mumbai-based dermatologist. Can’t DIY? Opt for Sugar Myy Love’s skin-tightening mask, with banana, yoghurt, liquorice, dried rice powder, organic sugar, honey and macha: ₹600 (200 gm jar, on




These are perfect for plants that you intend to transplant. All you need to do is bury the whole pot. In time, it’ll decompose, giving the plant added nutrition.

₹25 for a 5-inch upwards, SP Grace Naturals (8048401846)

Earthy Hues

Earthy Hues  

Dining staples

Turn your table green with natural-coloured runners, mats, and disposable dishes and cutlery.

Earthy Hues

Earthy Hues  

Mats, runners: ₹250 upwards,; tableware: ₹1 upwards,

Sri Achu Fibres

Sri Achu Fibres  


Instead of foam, opt for the natural: a cotton with vetiver root (for the aroma) mattress, encased with banana fibre. Try the pillow first to see if it works for you. PT Paremalam, who runs Sri Achu Fibres in Erode, says she’d worked on a banana-fibre-only design, but it got compressed too quickly.

Pillow: ₹400; baby’s mattress, ₹1,500,  

On your desk

It’s the little things that count. Choose pens with a banana-fibre sheath that are made by the differently-abled. ₹120 for three pens,; pen-and-stand set for ₹350 at

Banana-fibre boxes, rather than plastic, keep knick-knacks from spreading themselves out. ₹300 upwards, (retails products made by differently-abled people); ₹284,

Notebooks and notepad covers inspire you to plan better, write more and stay organised.

Notebook cover, ₹450,; banana fibre hardbound journal, ₹1,290,

Banana Flour

It’s one more option for gluten-free hoorah-ists. It can be used as a substitute for regular wheat flour or in small quantities to up the nutrition of a dish — such as in a soup, for thickening. “Raw banana flour is a functional food, which means it has specific nutrition benefits. It helps in recovery of the liver and gives instant energy, making it excellent for a range of people, from those recovering from jaundice (or any liver-related problem) to those who need a pre-workout boost,” says Lovneet Batra, a Delhi-based sports nutritionist.

₹315 for 500 gm, Urban Platter (available at; ₹622 (approx) for 397 gm, Now Foods (available at

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 3:34:42 PM |

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