Three city-based NGOs get together to overhaul the plastic disposal system in Mumbai.
As Mumbaikars clock in the third week of the plastic ban in the city, two NGOs, Vasundhara Club and Angolichi Goli have come up with an effective solution to prevent the dumping of plastic bags into landfills. The NGOs collaborated with the National Service Scheme (NSS) unit of Ramnarain Ruia College in Matunga on Saturday to beat plastic pollution. A desk was put up at the college quadrangle, where students could deposit a minimum of five plastic bags in exchange for a sapling. The collected plastics will now be donated to the Mumbai based Nirbahaya Foundation who will then send it to the G. D. Environmental Pvt. Ltd. plant in Pune, from where, the plastic bags will be incinerated to produce high-speed diesel and biofuel.
The idea behind this initiative is to promote a steadfast alternative to mitigate plastic pollution. Recycling plastic alone does not assure that plastic will not end up in the landfills and water bodies across the city and this initiative enables citizens to put their unused plastic to good use. “The reason we are not giving this plastic to the recycler is that only a certain kind of plastic is used by them and after segregation we are still left with heaps of plastic,” says Tushar Warang from the NGO Angolichi Goli.
“We want to bring forth alternatives for people to dispose their plastic. People still don’t know what to do with the unused plastic and we are here to fill that gap. We also have a track record of every single plastic bag we collect, as also the saplings distributed. We want to provide a valuable and long-lasting alternative,”says Tushar.
Jayesh Harsora, the founder of Vasudhara Green Club, is an advocate for both the plastic ban and for spreading the importance of trees, “We have only learnt to use plastic, but the second thing about plastic is its disposal which we have not learnt. We cannot dump plastics anywhere. The whole concept might be to beat plastic pollution, but I guess to manage plastic is more important. We have to develop a sustainable lifestyle. Just like when you cook food you have to think of all the members of the family. The purpose for giving these saplings is to connect with nature and to create a source of oxygen in a city like Mumbai.”
The drive has managed to collect 400 plastic bags with the help of students from the college and has distributed 80 indoor and outdoor plant saplings to the donors.
This collection of plastic bags will now be given to the Nirbhaya Foundation that has been championing the elimination of plastic in the city for the last 18 months. “We are a group of 150-200 ladies who started giving information about the plastic menace to people. But only awareness is not enough to convince people. When we recycle plastic it turns into a low-grade plastic. So when hot food is put inside recycled plastic containers, the nanoparticles in them dissolve and enter our bodies; which according to research, is the major cause of cancer and infertility. So why depend on others when we can take action ourselves? Other than plastic we also want to eliminate dry waste. So we send this plastic to make high-speed diesel, which can be used in cars, generators and where every diesel can be used. Our tagline ‘my plastic is my responsibility’ speaks for itself,” says Asmita Gokhale, founder of the Nirbhaya Foundation.
While this activity earlier took place at Goregaon’s Patkar college, these NGOs now plan to conduct various such drives at colleges, societies and slums across the city. “Wherever people are willing to eliminate plastics, we will be there,” concludes Tushar.