Meet the lady who collects milk covers

Inspired by Mumbai’s Milk Bag Project, Himani Datar has been facilitating the recycling of these plastic packets

September 24, 2022 09:42 pm | Updated 09:42 pm IST

Himani Datar

Himani Datar

Himani Datar is so invested in a recycling project that a spare room at her apartment in Anna Nagar East has been turned into a “workshop”. In this room, washed, dried and neatly-tied milk covers that have come in from schools, apartment communities, offices and individuals are dropped in a drum before they are sent to the recyclers.

Himani is the Chennai representative of the Milk Bag Project, an initiative started by three women in Mumbai in 2019 to reduce the amount of milk covers going to the landfills. A WhatsApp forward explaining the environmental challenge that can result from the wrong cutting of milk cover edges got her thinking, and she contacted the Milk Bag Project to help her start the drive in Chennai.

Over Zoom calls and a few tutorials, she was introduced to the campaign run by the three friends. “I was particular I follow their philosophy, which is non-commercial, and so I had an MoU signed with the Milk Bag Project and they guide me, which includes sharing of posters and videos,” says Himani, who launched the initiative in Chennai in 2021 on Vijayadashami.

Her close relatives and friends were the early adopters of the best practices she was trying to promote. Today, she has covered considerable ground. “I started with five kilos of milk packets a month. Now, I get between 50 and 60 kilos every month,” says Himani, who is honorary secretary of the Guild of Service (central).

Every package coming to her is entered in a document with its weight, date and name of the individual/institution. A few institutions like the DAV Group of Schools, the canteen at Madras Medical Mission, residential homes run by the Guild of Service and many individuals are among those sending the milk covers to her regularly. She also arranges pick-ups through Dunzo.

One challenge Himani faces is most recyclers want at least a tonne of milk packets, which means she has to store them at her home.

“I am looking for recyclers who will also be using the residue of milk covers to make various utility products,” says Himani, adding that she is in talks with two milk distributors. Recently, Himani was invited by the PSBB School in T Nagar to address students about her campaign.

“Children can be great influencers and are capable of driving best practices at home, so I am happy to be invited to schools and help launch the drive,” she says.

To know more about the Milk Bag Project, call 9384636553.

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