As our trees are felled and replaced with towering urban structures, the need to actively work towards environment conservation instead of against it (which is what we’ve unconsciously been doing so far) becomes more urgent. Whether it’s the 12-year-old who designed the plastic-cleaning ship for India’s oceans or the 13-year-old who invented a low-cost fire extinguisher, India’s youth is becoming more conscious by the day. And adding to that list is 17-year-old Khushi Kabra who, in light of Maharashtra’s plastic ban, is creating awareness about the use of bio-compostable plastic bags in Mumbai.
It was a serendipitous school project that opened Khushi’s world to bio-compostable plastic bags when she realised that by simply adding glycerol, cornstarch, vinegar and water, she could make a sheet of plastic that was eco-friendly. Having done in-depth research on compostable plastics, Khushi ventured out into the real world hoping to speak to people about the alternatives to plastic that they had adopted. “No one really knew about the alternatives to single use plastics. They were very confused about what they felt they should be using”, she tells Homegrown.
Moreover, she found that the so-called biodegradable plastic bags, which were often labelled as “oxo-degradable” or “eco-bags”, that were being used in the market were not actually biodegradable. In fact, the chemical composition of these “eco-bags” is not very different from normal plastic bags. Thereon began her campaign ‘IAmNotPlastics’, with the intention of speaking to people across the country and educating them about these bio-compostable plastic bags which already exist in the market but are not as popular. So far, Noble Chemists - a Mumbai-based chain- and Di bella coffee have agreed to come on board and help Khushi with this initiative.
“It was really fascinating for me as I come from a family background in plastics - for 55 years my family has been making plastic machinery,” shares Khushi. Her first step was to approach the managing committee of a housing society in Mumbai. After speaking to the members, she got permission to create awareness at the annual Independence day celebration in the society. This further motivated her to visit stores, schools and coffee shops in nearby areas.
“Currently, these bio-compostable bags that are available in the market are really expensive. So I have spoken to this one supplier, Narendra Plastics, who is approved by the Pollution Board of India. He is ready to supply the bags at a cheaper price to Noble chemists. Noble chemists have also agreed to stock these bags along with my awareness pamphlets. The same should be available in a month”, says Khushi.
As someone whose family runs a plastic business, the school project was a turning point in Khushi’s life and she is now determined to create as much awareness as she can. In fact she has convinced her family also to bring about some changes in how they process their plastic. Moving forward, Khushi plans on first ensuring the supply of these bio-compostable plastics in the market and continue spreading awareness, alongside focusing on her school education.
If you wish to purchase these bio-compostable plastic bags, you can visit the list of approved vendors here and get in touch with them directly.
You can also visit the official I Am Not Plastics website.
Feature image credit: I Am Not Plastics’ Instagram
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