Muhamma grama panchayat in Alappuzha is all set to launch a novel project to make environment-friendly cloth bags in a bid to discard plastic carrybags.
The panchayat is planning to collect old clothes from people and return bags made out of them.
The scheme is to be implemented through schools in November. More than 10 schools would take part in the initiative, panchayat president J.Jayalal told The Hindu . The ban on plastic bags would be brought in subsequently, he says.
The children would be asked to bring old clothes from their homes. A nominal handling charge of Rs.5-10 would be collected from each of them.
The panchayat has already tied up with Kudumbasree and an environment group, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE), to execute the project.
Twenty-five women from Kudumbasree have been given training in making bags of various sizes and shapes from old dress material. The services of a fashion designer, Easwar Subramony, has been roped in to make the bags more attractive to the masses.
“About 2,000 students will be involved in the project initially. If each of them brings an old sari stretching 5 metres, the number of bags that could be made out of them will run into several thousands. Old T-shirts, shirts and jeans could also be converted into useful, environment-friendly bags,” Mr.Jayalal says.
The panchayat is trying to get some sponsorships in a bid to make the project more viable. A meeting of traders is to be convened to have their collaboration in the project. The help of the Suchitwa Mission is also being sought.
Mr.Jayalal is hopeful of success as he has already achieved good results in certain novel projects earlier.
The panchayat, with a population of 30,000 people, was the first to be declared open defecation free (ODF) in the State. A campaign on reading of select books written by authors such as Thakazhy Sivasankara Pillai was organized a few months back wherein the books were distributed and a quiz based on the contents was done, inviting wide participation of women.
“People have a tendency to throw away plastic carry bags,” says Ashish Mathew George, a programme officer at ATREE.
“The indiscriminate disposal of such bags in waterbodies has harmed flora and fauna in Vembanad Lake. The new initiative will be be able to counter the plastic menace by proposing a good alternative,” he says.