For a green lifestyle

Ambika Shaligram
Thursday, 26 July 2018

At the fourth edition of Green Impact Fair, you will find a range of products that will help you make the switch from plastic

With the plastic ban firmly in place, people are now looking for home grown alternatives to the very convenient material. You can find some of these alternatives at Green Impact fair organised by Team Miracle, a group of citizens working for environment conservation. The fourth edition of the fair will be held on Saturday evening at Nukkad Cafe, Viman Nagar. It showcases a plethora of green options like daily dump composter, upcycled diaries and pencils made from newspaper, bamboo toothbrushes and cloth bags etc. 

We talk to a few participants who are all geared up to help people switch over to environment-friendly options. 

A Central Excise employee, Pradnya Alate quit her job to pursue an activity which has social value. She became the Pune partner for the Daily Dump company, founded 11 years ago by Poonam Bir Kasturi, an NID graduate.  

Kasturi came up with the idea of daily dump/kitchen composter, which will help you convert your organic waste into a resource. Says Alate, “Sixty per cent of our garbage is organic waste, like leftover food, fruit peels, which need not go to the landfills. Poonam thought that we need to be responsible for our waste, so she came up with this composter, a compact model, especially useful in urban settings, where you don’t have the liberty of having a pit in your backyard or a housing society.” 

The composter meant for a single family can take a load of 900 gm-1kg of waste per day. It has three pots which typically fill up in three weeks. “In Pune, more than 500 people are using the composter. At present, the composters are available online. If you place an order there, the company informs us and we deliver the order in the city,” says Alate, who comes from a farming background. “From early childhood, it was ingrained in me, to not waste food,” she says, adding, “At the Green Impact fair, I will be displaying the kitchen composter and a Puja Flower composter. We throw the nirmalya (flowers offered to god) into rivers, not realising that they contaminate water. The Puja Flower composter is a good option,” she adds. 

Jagruti Khabiya-Jain started her brand, Aratrika, last year in March. But it was monetised this year. “I am an architect and while I was working, I started working on Happy Pencils, made from newspapers, as a Do it Yourself product. This year, my husband and I launched it, tying up with stationery stores etc,” says Jain, adding, “We wanted to reach out to more people. For the six months that I was doing it as DIY, I was reaching out to elite people, who are already sensitised.” 

Today, the duo has sold more than 2 lakh pencils in four months. That is like saving more than 200 trees. “The pencil is made of used newspaper, with bio-degradable capsules. We have ladies staying in Parvati slums working for us. Apart form the pencils, we also make upcycled diaries — from waste generated by tailors and fashion designers. We pick up waste from a few tailors and designers every month. I sit with the team and match the textures for diary covers. The paper for the pages is sourced from the leftover paper available with printers and book binders in Shaniwar Peth and Shukrawar Peth. We started working on the diaries last year, but the scaling up happened this year. They will now be launched in association with Plumage, a store that deals in fashion. We also made upcycled notepads for the University of Liverpool, for their conference in Bengaluru,” says Jain. 

A packet of 10 paper pencils costs Rs 55, whereas seed pencils, another product by them, cost Rs 105 for a packet of 10 (when you discard them, the seed grows into a plant and later tree). The diaries are available in the range of Rs 250-350. 

Aratrika’s mission is to save trees — they want to protect 1,000 trees from being chopped by the end of this year. “We are launching paper pens that will reduce the plastic that goes into making the body of a pen. The refill will be of plastic, but the rest of it, we are trying to replace with eco material,” she says. Last month, the start-up was ranked amongst the 100 top innovators of Maharashtra. 

It’s not advisable to use black plastic lining for our dustbins, especially now that the plastic ban is in force. So what can you use as an alternative? Anagha Dhar, a project manager at an IT company, suggests using newspaper liner for the bins. She happened to look it up on YouTube and despite finding it difficult, learnt how to make it. “Once I learnt how to make the newspaper lining and used it at home, I knew this was a correct option for the black plastic bag. So I taught it to my daughter. And, together we demonstrated at a fair held in our housing society. The idea was to teach it to more people,” says she.

Dhar, who is also the CSR head of her company, conducted two pop-up workshops for the new recruitment. “The new entrants were taught to make these liners by experts. They were asked to make five and then they had to teach others — friends, family, co-workers etc,” she adds. 

Dhar will be demonstrating the skill to those who will be attending the fair. The intent is to teach, says Dhar, and not earn money. “Maybe I can teach this skill to people from lower strata of society so that they can earn from this,” she adds. 

An architect by profession, Kimaya Labde was introduced to the art of weaving dream catchers by her friends. She looked up the internet and learnt to make some. She will be displaying some of her dreamcatchers at the Green Impact fair. 

Says she, “Dreamcatcher is a Native American tradition and my dreamcatchers symbolise ‘hope’. There’s a web inside which is supposed to catch bad dreams and pass on good dreams. I thought of using the weaves for different products like keychains, jewellery, wall-hanging and car hanging.” 

Labde will be displaying 40 dreamcatchers, wind chimes, key chains etc in the price range of Rs 70-350. She will also be displaying gift envelopes made from handmade paper, with quilling designs and some with borders and laces from fabric. 

Pratik Khabiya’s thesis as a final year student of architecture was sustainable lifestyle habitat. While researching, he got interested in the subject and decided to take a gap year and work with an NGO. Two years of experience later, he submitted his thesis and became an architect. He then started Bhu Eco Sensitive, his start-up venture, last October. 

“I started off with cotton bags made from the cheapest cotton. On January 1, we launched them online. Then, we did a trial run of bamboo toothbrushes in April,” says Khabiya, adding “I want to launch home and body products. The body products will be preservative-free.”

At present, he has roped in a few women living in slums to stitch the cotton bags. “I buy cut pieces from Market Yard and supply them to the women. They stitch the bags,” he says.

As far as the bamboo toothbrushes are concerned, he uses locally-made bamboos and in some cases imported ones from Indonesia. He gets toothbrushes made from those bamboos at factories in Hyderabad and Odisha. “We take these factories on a lease for say, a period of seven days, to manufacture our work order of 500 brushes. My aim is to sell the products at a cheaper rate, so that they are affordable for middle class. I am selling the toothbrush between Rs 70-80. Currently, the other brands are selling bamboo toothbrush for Rs 120 or more,” he adds. The products made by Bhu Eco-Sensitives can be checked out and ordered at the start-up’s Instagram page. 

The Green Impact Fair will be held at Nukkad Cafe, Viman Nagar, on July 28, from 4-8 pm

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