To understand just how much plastic has impacted our ecosystem, take a shovel and dig a five-foot-deep hole. You will find pieces of plastic bags embedded in the mud,” says Mohan Kumar S, a resident of Kollam, Kerala.Mohan is at the helm of driving an anti-plastic revolution in Thiruvananthapuram, where he mans an outlet of the Kerala State Cashew Development Corporation and the Kerala State Cashew Workers Apex Industrial Cooperative Society (CAPEX).
So, what exactly is he doing to curb the plastic menace? Well, he has completely phased out plastic bags from his store and only uses cloth bags!These are not just any regular cloth bags, but ones that Mohan’s wife, R Sreelekha stiches using old sarees and discarded material from tailoring shops. In fact, she learnt to sew only so that she could make the bags.Mohan’s initial plan to purchase regular cloth bags proved to be quite expensive. So he looked around, found a nearby tailoring shop, and decided to fashion them from discarded bits of cloth.Last year, Kerala was affected by severe floods, and that was when Mohan thought of scaling up the production of the cloth bags.
“There was a collection centre in front of the VJT Hall where mounds of clothes arrived in the form of relief materials. There were a lot of old sarees, and we didn’t want to send these to the affected people. Instead of throwing or burning them, I thought I’d make bags from the sarees and they were later sold at the collection centre. People liked the idea, which led me to wonder if this could become a statewide initiative,” Mohan adds.
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