Passers-by and motorists could not help but pause for a moment and observe the little set-up beside the Saphalyam Complex at Palayam in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday morning. A slightly crooked tree, with not a shade of green, but strung entirely with newspaper bags and christened, ‘Bag Tree,’ volunteers scurrying about with bundles of paper bags, and a simple khadi, patch-worked banner reading ‘Thanal.’ The environmental research organisation distributed 3,000 paper bags at the busy junction, in the hope that more will take up the cause and say ‘no’ to plastic bags, an easily replaceable form of plastic, according to them.

September 25 was chosen to organise the programme as it is observed as Global Day of Action.

The ‘Bag Tree’ initiative is being supported by the Zero Waste Centre, Kovalam, a resource and training group. The initiative has a number of positives for it is environmentally favourable and economically beneficial, besides contributing to a far healthier society, according to Thanal executive director S. Usha.

“It may take months, but it is high time society changed its habits and mind-sets and disciplined itself to make use of such alternatives,” she said. She said that in the wake of the garbage management crisis faced by the city, residents and organisations such as residents’ associations should take a proactive role to promote such alternatives.

She said that statics revealed that each family utilised and disposed nearly 560 plastic carry bags annually, which translated roughly to 370 crores a year. The event was inaugurated by handing over a pile of paper bags to a fruit vendor at the junction.

The volunteers also distributed pamphlets. Booklets on ‘pot-composting’ by Shibu K. Nair were also on sale.