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Mumbai group set to make mattresses for homeless using discarded plastic

As a demo, a group of about 1000 members - called the Food Army - managed by a core team of six women, have started a project to make 6ftx3ft mattresses using discarded plastic bags.
By Neha LM Tripathi
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 11:30 AM IST

A group of Mumbaiites have come together to collect plastic from across the city, make mattresses using them and distribute to those living on the streets before the onset of monsoon.

As a demo, the group of six women — called Food Army —involved around 1,000 volunteers to make a 6ftx3ft mattress using discarded plastic bags. With an aim of making 100 such mattresses for the homeless, members of the Food Army said their larger aim is protecting the environment by reducing plastic burden on the planet, while at the same time generating employment for women.

Food Army started their work in 2014 with reaching out to victims of natural calamities and giving them home-cooked food. Rintu Kalyani Rathod, founder of the group and a resident of Santacruz, said, “We have been helping the needy during natural calamities with food and grains. This (mattress) project is very close to us.”

The plastic collection drive will be held on March 5 and 6 where citizens can give away polythene bags of various thickness, grocery plastic packaging bags, multi-layered wrappers of biscuits, chocolates, detergent and more. Food Army will also provide information about the 32 collection centres across Mumbai to the donors.

The group has employed two women to make plastic mattresses and is set to add four more women for the purpose. They also aim to involve rescue foundations by training girls to make plastic mattresses.

“Street children and women will collect plastic from donors and hand it over to us. In return, we will give them grains. We will reuse the plastic waste by engaging underprivileged women after training them, thus providing employment and also reach our ultimate goal to reduce plastic waste,” Rathod added.

People are requested to WhatsApp on 7977818669 (non- calling number) to donate plastics or help in the project.

Food Army, which does not accept monetary donations, had despatched 35,000 theplas to victims of the 2014 Kashmir floods, one lakh theplas to Nepal for earthquake victims in 2015, 30,000 to Chennai in 2016 and 85,000 to Gujrat flood victims in 2017. They had also sent 75,000 kgs of grains to Kerala flood victims in 2018 and groceries and other household items to Orissa in 2019 for the victims of Cyclone Fani.

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