Reports on Plastic Campaigns

Img

The use of plastic bags in Sunday market of Sectors 55-56 has reduced by 95% in the last one year (September 6, 2017 - Noida News of The Times of India)

It was a usual Sunday evening at Noida's Sector 55-56 market. As buyers haggled with vendors over prices, and both went about their usual business, a group of five women and 10-12 kids were also busy - they were keeping a thorough watch on both shopkeepers and buyers, checking if any one of them was using a polythene bag.

Women and child volunteers asking vendors and buyers to stop the use of polythene bags.

This is something that they have been doing for the past one year. Every Sunday, at 5pm, they start with their rounds at the market and keep a vigil till 10pm. If they see vendors using polythene bags, they immediately ask them to give them away. They also tell buyers and shopkeepers to not use these bags and go for cloth or paper bags instead.

While NCR residents have been trying to adjust their lifestyle following the National Green Tribunal's plastic ban, these women, along with the help of underprivileged kids from a school in Khoda colony, have been volunteering to make their Sunday market plastic-free. While they don't belong to a registered group, they call themselves TREE - Taking Responsibility for Earth and Environment.

Volunteers take away the poly bags from vendors if they find them using one.

'This is an important cause that had to be addressed'

Started by Shail Mathur, a resident of Sector 55, this initiative has come a long way. But the task hasn't been an easy one. "We started this initiative last year and we have seen a 95% reduction in the number of people using plastic bags at this Sunday market. But we had to work hard and be persistent. The vendors are very smart and they would often hide polythene bags if they saw us. But now, when we do our checks, we find only five per cent shopkeepers with polythene bags."

Vidya Rawat, another volunteer, says, "I have been associated with Shailji for a year and I find this cause really important to be addressed."

Vendors often hide poly bags in their pockets.

'The children are the real heroes of this initiative'

The women credit the child volunteers for their hard work. As Jayanthi Iyengar, a social activist who is associated with the group, says, "These kids are smart. They have been trained and are adept at finding polythene bags which vendors try to hide."

Aaryan Kumar, Nikhil Kashyap, Sachin Kashyap, Yash Kumar, Rajit, Himanshu, Beeru, Prem Kumar - these are some of the kids who are actively involved with the drive. "Humare gharon mein bhi polythene bags use nahi karte hain ab. We want to tell everyone that they should stop using polythene bags," says one of the children. Sachin adds, "When we started this drive a year back, we would retrieve so many poly bags that they would fill two-three large carry bags. But now we retrieve only a handful of poly bags as most vendors have stopped using them."

'Initially, it was tough to convince vendors'

"Vendors didn't like it when we went to them and checked if they were using poly bags. Initially, when we started out, a vendor got so angry, usne mujhe thappad maar diya. Mujhe bura laga. Maine ma'am ko bulaya aur unhone usse khoob daanta. Aaj jab uss shopkeeper ke pass jata hoon toh woh dhang se baat karte hain," said one of the child volunteers.