Five student-run organizations fighting to reduce plastic pollution in India

To reduce the pollution caused by littering and unmanaged plastic waste, the Indian government has banned the manufacture, import, storage, distribution, sale and use of identified single-use plastic items, which have low utility and high waste potential. in all the countries.

The list of prohibited items – which went into effect July 1 – includes headphones with plastic sticks, plastic balloon sticks, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol ) for decoration, plastic plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays, wrapping or wrapping films around candy boxes, invitation cards, packets of cigarettes , plastic or PVC streamers under 100 microns, stirrers.

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To solve the problem of managing the production of single-use plastic, the government has also taken measures to raise awareness for the disposal of single-use plastics. Here are five student-led organizations that have embarked on the path to zero waste:

1. Sneh Project

Project Sneh organizes donation campaigns to provide cloth diapers for infants. (Credits: Sneh Project)

Have you ever wondered if the disposable diapers your children wore as children were safe and eco-friendly? Disposable diapers contain a layer of petroleum-based plastic that acts as a waterproof coating, putting the environment at risk. To combat this problem, Project Sneh, led by Naman Utreja of Motilal Nehru College, has produced reusable cloth diapers at affordable rates.

“Our diapers are the perfect option for infants as well as the environment. They are skin-friendly, reusable, easy to wash, eco-friendly,” he said.

CPSIA certified nappies are suitable for children up to three years old for at least a period of five months at a rate of Rs 50.

Following the “wear-wash-repeat” cycle, these nappies help inculcate basic hygiene habits in all sections of society across India.

Regarding the recent ban on single-use items, Uterja said, “It will be a huge help because we are also promoting the reuse of products by introducing different alternatives and raising awareness in society.”

2. Project Sugam

The Sugam Project team prepares an Ecobrick. (Credits: Sugam Project)

What to do with a plastic bottle after drinking all the water? Ideally, throw it in a dumpster or use it as carry-on for your next outing.

The Sugam project collected single-use plastic bottles to make eco-bricks to build publicly accessible toilets in Delhi. Led by Eshita Mahajan and Kruti Jain, of Jesus and Mary College, Sugam won the ‘People’s Choice Award’ at the 2021 Enactus World Cup for this charitable effort.

Speaking in detail about Sugam, Mahajan said, “We make the eco-bricks by packing single-use plastic in plastic bottles to serve as an ideal, reusable building block. They are made entirely from non-recyclable plastic which, when combined with cement and mortar, creates a strong and resilient structure.

Sugam has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by up to 2,531 kg by collecting 1,646 kg of single-use, non-recyclable plastic over the past year. Each of the structures will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1538 kg, Kruti Jain said.

Also, in the long term, Sugam aims to diversify and use eco-bricks to build other products such as trash cans and disability-friendly street furniture and expand its operations outside of Delhi NCR.

3. Taber Project

Project Tabeer organizes fundraisers to provide eco-friendly tableware to food vendors. (Credits; Tabeer Project)

“Tabeer” means “the interpretation of dreams”. The motto of this project is to fulfill the dream of creating a secure and sustainable future for generations to come. Led by Manya Dodwani and Anmol Jagetiya of Satyawati College, Tabeer makes cutlery from areca palm to replace plastic tableware.

Areca is a tree found in the southernmost regions and eastern parts of India, which includes medicinal properties used for the treatment of glaucoma. “We use the areca leaf by heating it and pressing it in a machine to make areca cutlery. It is 100% chemical free, biodegradable, oven safe and waterproof,” Dodwani said.

In addition, the waste generated during the manufacture of areca cutlery is used as animal fodder, making it a zero waste project.

4. Qadira Project

The Qadira Project envisions the world “bleeding with pride”. (Credits: Qadira Project)

“Considering menstrual hygiene management as a basic necessity and creating affordable products that are good for users and the environment are the main pillars of the Qadira Project,” said Drishti Makhijani, Founder of the Qadira Project and student of the Bennett University, Greater Noida. .

The Qadira project aims to offer a range of skin-friendly, reusable, economical and environmentally friendly sanitary napkins. Highlighting the disadvantages of a disposable sanitary napkin, Makhijani said, “A disposable sanitary napkin is made of 90% plastic, which is dangerous for the health of a menstruating woman and also contaminates the soil, air and water when thrown away. Our tampons are safe, reusable and non-polluting. “We provided 8,000 reusable towels and avoided the production of 11.52 tonnes of plastic waste,” she added.

To expand their goal of educating the masses, Project Qadira has curated and organized menstrual literacy for ages 17+, with translations available in multiple languages ​​(English, Hindi and other regional languages), approved by gynecologists and educators .

Recently, Project Qadira organized the largest youth-led menstrual and sex education campaign in India, named Pehel, in collaboration with Enactus India. The event was addressed by Avanti Nagral, an entertainer who welcomed the audience with music and songs, and Dr. Anjali Kumar, a gynecologist who presented her views on the urgent need for menstrual literacy.

Speaking about her vision for the Qadira project, Makhijani said, “As a team of empowered young menstrual women, we see menstrual hygiene management as a basic necessity and strive to create smarter, greener menstrual solutions. and make them easily accessible to all.

At present, Qadira is working on creating a D2C brand named “Qadira Hygiene”.

5.Basera Project

The Basera project aims to transform the lives of women by organizing awareness sessions, health camps, educational webinars, etc. (Credits: Project Basera)

Personal protective equipment commonly referred to as PPE has been well received during the coronavirus outbreak. But we are little aware of the grim reality of PPE. PPE has exacerbated the plastic crisis contributing to the ruin of our environment.

Tackling the problem, Vanshika Bansal, a third-year student at Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies, with her Basera project team, has been collecting waste PPE and converting it into multipurpose mats and bags for the past two years. “PPE waste during Covid-19 had reached a huge height, for which there is no disposable mechanism, and we have the solution for that,” she said. The Basera project solves the problem of urban homelessness and the management of plastic waste from textile/PPE waste.

Digging into production details, Bansal said, “Waste collected from PPE is recycled into multi-purpose mats and bags through the braiding procedure and shipped from the manufacturing site with the help of delivery partners to customers.” . In an attempt to uplift disadvantaged communities, Basera also provides employment for women in government foster homes.

Aiming to transform the lives of homeless women through this entrepreneurial action, Basera has organized awareness sessions, regular surveys, health camps, educational webinars, etc., for disadvantaged communities belonging to shelters .

Following the government’s decision to ban plastic, Bansal said, “When we see government support, it motivates us and accentuates the problem we are solving. It’s high time we started looking for alternatives to plastic, because we’ve suffered enough already.

(The author is an intern at Indian Express Online)

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Bryce K. Locke