Plastic waste management is an essential part of starting a big corporation in modern times. Just 20 odd years back we used to get milk in a glass bottle at our doorsteps. We would get another glass bottle the next day and they would pick the previous ones. They clean–refill and would land on the doorstep the next day. Our grandmothers and even parents would carry a cloth bag to shop for vegetables. And in all two-wheelers, there would be a cloth bag by default to carry any demands home. A waste-collector would come every morning to collect garbage which directly will go into the waste box on his hath-gaadi. We didn’t worry about a ‘clean-dustbin’, we washed our bins every day.
[dropcap]But we decided to move ahead and lead a more comfortable rather stylish life. Why get milk in a glass bottle which often breaks, we went ahead for easy-to-carry and less manageable plastic pouches. Just for numbers, Mumbai gets nearly 50 lakh plus pouches every day. Calculate how much plastic India uses and throws daily.[/dropcap]
We wanted to be stylish and didn’t want to carry cloth bags. We considered them old fashioned and plastic bags were attractive. Thanks to incorrect advertisements. And, we didn’t want to wash dust-bins every day as of course, it was difficult to manage for working couples. So in came the black plastic dustbin liners.
Small changes initially but what they grew into is quite scary -the Indian government says “More than 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated in India every day, of which 6,000 tonnes remain uncollected and littered”. Collected or littered, each plastic takes roughly 500-1,000 years to degrade! Reports say, there is enough plastic waste… Click To Tweet
Pollution happening from plastic may not even be visible to the naked eye. As research is showing that microscopic plastic particles are present in the air. And at various locations throughout the world and in all major oceans. It is now present in our terrestrial, aquatic and airborne environments – that is, it’s everywhere.
Plastic waste management is a significant part of the operations that a municipal corporation has to undertake.
While the government affirmed the plastic ban a few years back, there were people still using plastics for their daily use. The unmentioned reason was obvious – convenience. You couldn’t expect people to carry cloth bags everywhere. Because it wasn’t a habit and neither could you ask couples to add another task to wash their dustbins.. As they already busy daily routine.
Jyoti and Arun from greenBUG’s- A life savior plastic waste management system, wanted to change the habit of plastic usage by suggesting convenient alternatives. The question was what should that alternative be? Something that is easily available, solves the purpose and yet be eco-friendly. That’s how they came up with the idea of ‘newspaper dustbin liner’. Newspaper, as a material has it’s own challenges. With that idea in mind, they started their research to explore other alternatives as well. The first step was to understand the difference between what can be composed in a few years and what will take hundreds of years. They soon started meeting people who could give them actual data and help them search for solutions.
“We often come across types of a plastic bag with a message like ‘this is not a plastic bag’ and we tend to believe ‘It must be good’, patting our backs that we are not using plastic. Unfortunately, that is not true. We need to understand whether it is biodegradable or compostable; and under what conditions, controlled or natural. I learned most after starting greenBUG. There is still not enough awareness to segregate various kinds of plastic. I mean, non-woven polypropylene bags are circulated as cloth bags!! Disintegrated particles of biodegradable plastic bags tend to cause more harm than regular plastic as it gets mixed with our air and water, and is not visible to our naked eyes”, says, Jyoti Pahadsingh, founder, greenBUG.
Founded in 2015 by Jyoti and Arun, greenBUG works towards solving a problem the ‘plastic ban’ raised rather, was not helping in ‘plastic ban’.
Solving three problems together
With one objective this initiative is solving three problems. Those are cutting down on plastic usage, empowering home-bound women, and utilizing old newspapers which would rather get thrown or sold at a negligible amount.
“While it may sound easy, we had many trials and unproductive days to get the right design. A design that could fit in any of the dustbin types, something that was quick to be made yet firm enough to hold wet waste and uses no adhesives or tapes – nothing that is not environment-friendly as it defeats the whole purpose”, says, Arun.
The Bangalore-based company collects old newspapers from housing societies nearby, gets them to their centers where the women workers are already waiting to make these old newspapers useful. Few hand-tools designed by Arun and Jyoti helps these women in pressing the newspaper and giving it the right folds. This ensures both – in increasing productivity as well as in the reduction of errors.
Even the materials used to get this newspaper in shape are eco-friendly. They don’t use any adhesives, rather a paste created by all-purpose flour (maida) and water to stick the corners. The entire production process is quite green.
While Jyoti and Arun had thought of this initiative to contribute to the environment while continuing with their jobs, the amazing response they got from people in Bangalore made them think towards growing this at a bigger level.
But the challenge was the same as all great initiatives have – finances to run the show. While plastic bags cost 2 Rs, the greenBUG bags cost 5-6 Rs and hence a tie-up with supermarkets wasn’t working. Amar Krishnamurthy is a common friend and CEO of Town Essentials. He took the initiative to keep them in his store and gave it to his customers as samples. They also got welcomed by organic stores. greenBUG soon decided to place their product on Amazon through Amazon Saheli to reach a broader audience.
The Future is Green
Jyoti and Arun since then haven’t got time to look back and have been working towards growing the production. They are happy they are not able to meet the demand at times – a good sign for the environment but it means they need to expand quickly. This is what Arun is working towards every day while Jyoti juggles between her role as a management consultant and at greenBUG. With the demand for such eco-friendly items and the support from people in Bangalore, greenBUG believes the idea will be accepted by many across India. They soon plan to have retail tie-ups in other metros as well.
Until they reach your city, you can place your order for eco-friendly dustbin liners from greenBUG at Amazon.in. Also, keep checking https://gogreenbug.com/ as they soon plan to launch more eco-friendly items.
The most efficient way to avoid spreading more plastic as well as to inculcate a sense of ownership in the common people going forward is to educate them on plastic waste management.
Related post: Bare necessities on a zero waste journey