India is a vast country with different people believing in different religions. It is not rare that we observe devotees organizing bhandaras, langars or Chabeel. But have your ever questioned that what happens to the huge amount of disposable waste that is generated after these events?
Sameera Satija (45), a resident of Gurugram, would often encounter such events at public places and get appalled with the amount of disposable waste that would keep lying at the venue for weeks. No one would bother to clean up the area after the event. These waste products would get stuck in water drains and horticulture nets and many a times, animals would swallow them, mistaking them for food items.
Sameera was bothered by this problem of disposable waste. She had also studied about researches proving that plastic or styrofoam leach harmful and cancer causing chemicals into the food when it is served hot in disposable plates. Working in waste disposable management, she would often educate the organizers about the ill-effects of disposable plastic items but many of them had their own reasons for using it. Eliminating those products was not easy until there was a replacement.
That’s when the idea struck her- she decided to set up ‘Crockery Bank’. The idea was to lend reusable crockery without any rental or charge to the organizers, so that they could use them and return them after cleaning. She knew that asking them to buy the utensils would be unpractical and utensils on rent were not easily available in the market.
She began with giving glasses at the time of Nirzala Ekaadashi, where people would organize Chabeel and offer sweet lassi to the passers-by on the road. The first step was not to eliminate the usage of disposable products, but to reduce them.
“I divided them into two to three groups and to my great satisfaction, we could avoid considerable amount of disposable trash,” tells Sameera in an interview with Chaaipani.
She tells that the system of lending utensils existed during older times but as days passed, the disposable products took the hot seat.
“I just reintroduced the same old idea. I work as a volunteer to promote home composting and manage waste disposal. When I came up with this idea, my fellow volunteers were very appreciative of it,” she tells.
One of her fellow volunteers, Arushi, began procuring the utensils from one of her friends who owns a factory. As the word spread, more people came in front and offers started pouring in from all corners.
“The response from everyone is just exhilarating. I had never expected this. I am overwhelmed by the response I am getting from every walk of life,” she says.
Sameera says that as far as cleaning the utensils is concerned, it is very easy, as at every bhandara, langar or even a house party, water is easily accessible. The problem arrives when the event is organized at roadside or a public place where there is a problem with accessibility of water.
When asked about the procedure that people have to follow to get the utensils, she says that the organizer just has to give a written letter signed by either his Risk-Weighted Assets (RWA) or councilor of the ward mentioning the date of the event and the utensils required. If neither of the above is possible, any two members from the group may give away copies of two IDs proof each with their residential address.
Sameera, who started with just one branch at her place, now has nine branches with three in Delhi. She feels grateful for people’s support for her initiative. “Some of them put their own money and many societies came forward to create their own bank,” she tells. She wants every society to take up this idea as it will make the work easier and also leave lesser carbon footprints in terms of fuel consumption.
Change begins only when you take a small step towards it. It is only when you try do you succeed. Lets all take measure from a very small level to save the environment as much as we can in our capacity and adopt environment-friendly ways in our daily life.
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