Donate your waste and get a gift, says Mumbai NGO
While the state’s plan to ban plastics gains momentum, a group of environment conscious citizens have been encouraging Mumbaiites to recycle their waste by giving them jute, cotton or cloth bags in return.
As a part of their ‘Bag for Cause’ campaign, the group, Green Yatra, have so far collected 100 tonnes of plastic, electronic and other recyclable waste from housing societies in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). In return, they have gifted over 20,000 bags, a fact confirmed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Vasai-Virar City Municipality.
Simultaneously, Yatra, which has 20 members and over 1,000 volunteers, claims to have planted over 1.3 lakh fruit trees, such as, coconut, mango, chikoo, guava, pomegranate, and more, across the MMR – including unit 19 and 22 in Aarey Milk Colony, Malad, Gorai, Virar, Thane, Bhiwandi, – since 2010.
“Our main aim is to discourage the use of plastic bags, one of the primary sources of marine litter. All types of dry waste coming to us is being either sent for recycling, or being returned to the industries, or being reused. The goal is to inculcate the habit of using alternatives to plastic,” said Pradeep Tripathi, founder, Green Yatra. “People giving waste can opt for plants instead of a bag.” In September 2017, state environment minister Ramdas Kadam announced that Maharashtra will ban the use, sale, possession and manufacturing of all kinds of plastic bags and packaged water bottles by March 18 (Gudi Padwa). The state is expected to clear the draft notification by the second week of March, said officials from the state environment department.
Tripathi said their campaign also helps empower underprivileged and tribal women. “We have identified women in both rural and urban areas to help make these bags. These bags can carry up to 15kg of weight. These women can design and stitch eco-friendly bags and earn up to Rs10,000.” The group runs a training centre in Ambadi in Thane, dedicated to tribal women since 2012. “Our plan is to empower 1,000 tribal women by 2018. More training centres will be set up in Wada, Jawhar, Manor, Dahanu, Kalyan and Karjat,” he said. The NGO’s plantation drive is supported by adman-turned-environmentalist Subhajit Mukherjee. “We are trying to do our bit towards nature,” said Mukherjee. “The efforts of the NGO stand testimony to a plastic-free future. Mumbaiites need to take small steps towards a green future,” said Mili Shetty, environmentalist from Charkop.