The Initiative That’s Making Mumbai Plastic-Free - One Straw At A Time

The Initiative That’s Making Mumbai Plastic-Free - One Straw At A Time
Susty Vibes

India’s oceans are choking. At the ongoing St+art India exhibition at Mumbai’s Sassoon Docks, one of the most impactful installations was created by Singapore-based artist Tan Zi Xi, titled ‘Plastic Ocean’. As visitors walk through a blue ‘sea’ of plastic - bottles, cups, utensils and cartons - the artist’s message is abundantly clear. It’s a scary world, from the point of view of fish, a fact that’s further reinforced by this grim statistic - by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than marine life itself. Let a shudder run down your spine before you think about how you can curb the consumption, and disposal, of this undying, toxic waste.

Simple lifestyle switches (that could potentially save the planet) are the easiest to make and, therefore, the most sustainable in the long run. In recognition of this, Indian startup Pappco Greenware has created an entire range of 100% plastic-free food packaging products (including cutlery and utensils) to tackle the mounting problem of plastic waste in the country. In response to a worldwide movement that is cracking down on the use of plastic in homes, offices, restaurants and bars, Pappco provides viable alternatives to most plastic products - from straws to serving plates. However, it’s their latest campaign that has our attention right now.

One Less Piece of Plastic (OLPP), launched by Pappco Greenware this year, is enlisting the help of Mumbai’s F&B industry to tackle the problem of plastic. The exponential rate at which the number of restaurants and food-delivery services is multiplying implies a direct rise in the use of food-packaging materials (primarily made from plastic). All of it needs to go but making the transition to a completely plastic-free business is hard, so Pappco Greenware is gunning for just one less piece of plastic. Started in June 2017, The Last Plastic Straw Campaign has recruited 25 outlets in the city, each saying no to plastic straws in favour of Pappco’s FDA-certified straws made from sustainably-sourced paper (no trees were cut down in the process). This list of conscious restaurants includes local favourites like The Bagel Shop, The Daily, Cafe Zoe, all Social outlets, Smokehouse Deli outlets and Prithvi Cafe. Even ‘the happiest music festival’, NH7 has pledged to go plastic-free, starting this year, so plastic straws will be switched out out for Pappco Greenware’s paper straws in your favourite bucket.

Image source: Pappco Greenware

A part of the Last Plastic Straw campaign is discouraging the use of straws altogether - most restaurants they work with have a ‘straw on-demand’ model where paper straws are given only on a customer’s request. The future for Pappco Green involves onboarding another 100 restaurants and bars across India to keep plastic out of our food, environment and, more permanently, from our lives. They will also be organising an ocean clean-up in association with Reefs Watch India, funded entirely by the sale of paper straws, in 2018.

In 2015, a horrific video of a plastic straw being extracted from a turtle’s nostril surfaced on the internet - the last straw for a lot of environmentally-aware consumers. Whether it’s the sight of Mumbai’s clogged beaches or the fact that Delhi generates a whopping 9,600 metric tonnes of the 56 lakh tonnes of plastic waste produced in India - let a staggering statistic or an appalling photograph change your mind about plastic.

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