A young couple from Hyderabad, Jyoti and Pankaj, have undertaken an initiative to introduce the concept of zero-waste in their city, by establishing a shop which promotes using paper bags instead of plastics to store, as well as carry their products. They had got this idea from a zero-waste organic store in Chennai called EcoIndian, where they used to shop when they lived in the city. Located in Secunderabad, this eco-friendly shop stores about 150 items including rice, grains, homemade pickles, snacks, grocery items, paper covers, eco-friendly bags and handmade soaps which are all stored in glass and metal containers. The shop also has herbal soaps, coffee scrubs, organic shampoo and cutlery packed in small pouches. Many of the products, especially the cloth bags and pickles in the store are made at home by women. The store even has a range of homemade food items like milk and tea masala powders, different kinds of green tea, dry fruits, chutney powder and honey collected from apiary farms.
However, if you want to buy something from the store, you would have to either come with your own cloth/ paper bags, metal containers, or buy cloth bags available at the store in order to pack your items. They have also been able to identify sellers who would supply items to them in cloth or paper bags. However, it was not an easy task for Pankaj and Jyothi. “We found a lot of them at the wholesale market but very few were willing to sell them without using plastic packages. So, we decided to get our own metal containers and jars to transport the items. Since we began with only limited quantities of each item, this also was an issue as sellers were used to selling them in bulk,” Pankaj says.
This kind of effort to find alternatives to plastic use has been taken up by the couple at a time when it has contributed to environmental hazards all over the world. It is an extension of the movement which originated in Europe, and is expected to contribute towards making the Earth a better place to live in. Even though plastic is used in almost every industry, the packaging industry itself of course, has been the main culprit. The effects include clogging of drains, illness in animals due to intake of plastic, as well as contamination of tap water through micro-fibre plastics.
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