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World Environment Day: Delhiites swear by the 3Rs to beat plastic pollution

By, New Delhi
Jun 05, 2023 12:22 PM IST

On World Environment Day, June 5, some Delhiites share how they are doing their best to reuse, reduce and recycle plastic to save the planet. While building a better, cleaner and more artistic future for the city, these residents of the Capital are building utility artefacts and artworks.

From suffocating marine life in the vast expanse of the oceans to polluting the very air we breathe, plastic has become an unwelcome guest that refuses to leave. Amid the bustling city life, to combat this pestering enemy, some Delhiites are defying the odds and taking it upon themselves to conceive innovative solutions to put plastic waste to use while building a better, cleaner and artistic future! On World Environment Day (June 5), here’s a look at the works of some of them.

Delhiites are finding innovative and productive ways to convert plastic waste into benches, ashtrays and artworks.
Delhiites are finding innovative and productive ways to convert plastic waste into benches, ashtrays and artworks.

Manveer Singh Gautam’s installation shows the massive level of waste that the city generates in comparison to its tourism.
Manveer Singh Gautam’s installation shows the massive level of waste that the city generates in comparison to its tourism.

Taking inspo from the colourful plastic, Artist Manveer Singh Gautam aka Plasticvalla has created an installation using plastic pet bottles and packages, to soon be placed at Kautilya Marg as part of the G20 installations around the city. “I decided quite early on that whatever I create, Nature should be its beneficiary. For this work named Delhi Darshan, I’ve created all the monuments that are present in Delhi but have kept their sizes small and kept the mountain in a large size to present a structure showcasing the Ghazipur dump in Delhi. It depicts how this dump is something that can also be considered as a monument since we are letting it grow to such a massive scale,” says the 2017 graduate from College of Art, Tilak Nagar, adding, “I use multi-layered, lightweight plastic in my creations, which are usually found in landfills and cannot be recycled easily. The first thing I created was a habit-changer box where even if people dump plastic, it will appear colourful on the outside. This is something I took door-to-door and it now has 200 participants.”

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An ashtray made out of plastic waste has been recently installed in Safdarjung Enclave.
An ashtray made out of plastic waste has been recently installed in Safdarjung Enclave.

Also colourful in appeal are the newly installed ashtrays made out of plastic sheet, which can be spotted in Commercial Complex of Safdarjung Enclave. “It’s made up of 60% kitchen foil, 30% toothpaste tubes, and 9.5% plastic caps. The concept was to help people have a place that attracts people leave the cigarette butts in one place rather than throw them around. Eventually, it not only acts as a better alternative but also helps segregate the waste in a better fashion and avoids birds from picking the butts from the ground,” says Ashwani Aggarwal from BasicShit.org. His waste recycling collective has been popular for recycling plastic to make urinals, and have installed more than 180 toilets in Delhi and recycled over 10 metric tonnes of plastic. To help people have better sanitation facilities, Aggarwal adds, “We have incorporated plastic processed toilets and urinals at construction sites and even in the most underdeveloped areas of the city.”

A bench installed in Pragati Maidan is made using 20,000 waste plastic bottle caps.
A bench installed in Pragati Maidan is made using 20,000 waste plastic bottle caps.

These initiatives prove how it’s time to bench the notions that plastic waste is a necessary evil that can’t be reused in better ways. And while you take a breather to think, do sit if you spot a colourful bench in the city. “We have installed 500 park benches pan India, which includes locations in Delhi like the SDM office in Karol Bagh, MLA office in Delhi Cantonment and Malviya Nagar, Atta Market in Noida, and Mount Abu School in Rohini,” informs Sonal Shukla, from Econscious. Her team recycles plastic waste to make products for home decor, public utility as well as corporate gifting. “The idea is to close the loop of plastic waste management by teaching people how something created out of the waste generated by them can be utilised by them. Since parks are visited by people across all age groups, we opted to place the benches here... Initially we were recycling 500kg of plastic waste per month from Delhi-NCR, which is now at a peak of 1.5 lakh kg per month! We use plastic collected from ragpickers or directly from the houses via our on-door pickup service and then upcycle it to create public utility resources,” shares Shukla, an NIT Kurukshetra alumna, adding, “After the collection, we process it into large boards where we use at least five types of plastic — milk packets, multi-layered plastic waste, hard plastic waste like shampoo or conditioner bottles, and food containers used for packaging, among other things that are collected and upcycled as park benches, planters, study table, etc.”

Author tweets @maisha_scribbles

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