Bangalore: Plastic polluters sent packing

L B Shastrinagar RWA discourages plastic and to make it work, distributes cloth bags among residents

If you are a resident of Lal Bahadur Shastri Nagar, be prepared for a knock on the door to remind you that plastic’s not so fantastic.

Uthkarsh, as L B Nagar Association likes to call itself, started off on its rounds three years ago and now plans to start all over again just to remind people. And they don’t stop there – they also distribute cloth bags among residents for a price.

PERSONAL TO PUBLIC

The idea came from two residents who were inspired by a speech. “On January 26, 2007, P Venkatramanan from Indiranagar Residents’ Welfare Association (RISE) gave a speech on the dangers of plastic. That speech really got us thinking and from then, my friend Sarita and I have incorporated the anti-plastic principle at an individual level,” said 36-year-old Trupti Godbole, a member of the Uthkarsh core team that looks at anti-plastic activities.

“When we would go to the grocery shops, we would take our own bags. If we forgot them, we would come back home for the bags, but would never accept plastic bags,” she said.

But after a while, the duo and their team of two, Suresh Kumar and Sujatha Sharma, realised that they had to make other residents aware of the ills of plastic too and thus began the door-to-door campaign.

The campaign also culminated in making cloth that were distributed among residents and put up in neighbourhood grocery shops. “There are 11 apartments in the area like, Kalpatru, Anand Enclave, Itina Abby, Srinidhi Signature and others. We managed to cover eight. We explained how dangerous it was to use plastic and distributed bookmarks that we had made,” said Sarita Kotagiri, an Association member.

Though most residents were aware of the dangers and ready to discard plastic, they were all faced with a standard problem: They needed plastic bags to dispose of their garbage.

“We tried explaining to them that they could line their bins with newspapers and then throw the garbage outside. Many people agreed,” said Sarita.

BAGS GET BETTER

The other problem was the bags. The association would initially get leftover cloth from tailor shops and turn them into bags which they distributed for a paltry sum. The Association for Promotion of Social Action (APSA), where 25-year-old Sarita is a volunteer, agreed to make the cloth bags.

“When there were complaints that residents would forget their bags and end up using plastic, we kept some bags with the security guards in the apartments so that if residents forgot, they could get it from them.”

Soon, people started complaining that the bags were not very comfortable and they did not like carrying them.

“After getting negative feedback, we decided to shift to non-woven fabric bags, that are both eco-friendly and that can be kept in pockets or laptop bags. It can even be washed. We asked residents to give away their old curtains and bedsheets, which we converted to cloth bags and gave to shopkeepers for home delivery,” said Trupti.

By Gayatri Nair from Bangalore Mirror

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