After buying the products on his list in the busy market in Kozhikode, Kerala, Sankaran Moosad meticulously empties the contents of plastic packets full of spices, condiments, fruits and sugar into paper ones. While doing so, he garners a few stares and also gets clicked by curious, nosy smartphones.
Once, when he was doing so, the manager of the store intervened.
“I was just transferring the products from plastic packets to paper ones and steel containers. Usually, people do that at home. The manager did not say anything after learning about my mission to keep plastic items out of my home. I have made several trips to the same supermarket since that day and now people have stopped raising eyebrows,” Moosad, who presently lives in Kozhikode town tells The Better India.
56-year-old Moosad, a retired senior clerk at Kerala’s Vazhakkad panchayat, Kerala, has taken India’s commitment to eliminate single-use plastic items by 2022 seriously.
“I am not doing this to gain fame. Being a responsible citizen, giving up plastic items is the most natural thing for me to do,” he says.
Practising What I Preach
Moosad’s plastic-free mission began while he was still in office.
In early 2017, when the panchayat started a campaign against plastic, urging the citizens to adopt eco-friendly alternatives, Moosad was the first to sign up.
He not only spoke to others about it, Moosad also implemented the same principles at home by replacing plastic carry bags with cloth ones.
At his office, he made the same appeal to give up non-biodegradable plastic cups and bottles to his seniors. Soon, the panchayat took a collective effort and switched to stainless steel glasses to serve tea and coffee.
Drawing inspiration from him, Moosad’s colleagues started getting their food in steel tiffin boxes.
Easy Plastic-Free Steps By Kerala-based Moosad That You Too Can Follow:
Moosad soon realised that merely giving up plastic carry bags was not enough as other kinds of plastic still remained in the house.
“When my wife and I started counting plastic items in the house we were overwhelmed by its presence in our lives. We had a tough time chalking out a plan to discard the toxic material but the implementation was comparatively easy,” shares Moosad.
Every once or twice in a month, Moosad travels to the city area to purchase cloth bags in wholesale.
“It is true when people say that plastic carry bags are cheaper than cloth ones. But it was critical to make a shift as polythene bags are heavily used in our households. We store them thinking it will be reused for our next grocery shopping. But we often forget to take the bag while stepping out and end up getting a new one,” says Moosad.
Going out of the house with at least one cloth bag has now become a habit in the Moosad household.
Plastic containers have made way for stainless steel containers in Moosad’s home to store food items.
Each steel container has a number tag on it for easy identification. Each food item is allotted a specific number and a list is maintained to keep a track.
With the problem of storage addressed, Moosad came up with ways to avoid plastic packaging altogether.
“There are two ways to do that, one is to empty the packets at source (like a supermarket) or go back to traditional ways. For example, my grandparents used to go to the dairy and collect milk in a container,” shares Moosad.
He followed suit and now he purchases coffee from local grounding centre and procures items like wheat flour, ghee and oil in containers from local groceries that have this option.
Moosad’s wife Preethadevi has been a great support in his mission. After helping him in choosing sustainable alternatives of plastic, she has now extended it to her work as well.
Preethadevi is a teacher in a local private school.
Recently, the school had organised several competitions as part of extracurricular and Preethadevi pitched the idea of making plastic-free pens.
“The students made a pen from craft paper and filled them with vegetable seeds. The result was a biodegradable pen which will germinate into a plant after being discarded,” she shares.
95 per cent Plastic Free Home
Moosad is not afraid to confess that his house is not completely plastic-free as items like shampoo bottles and photo frames still prevail, “I can say that 95 per cent of my house is plastic-free.”
His efforts were recently recognised by Haritha Kerala Mission, a government-led initiative for a sustainable environment and were even shared on their official social media handles, “This family is a good example of how families can follow plastic-free mission,” it reads.
Moosad truly embodies the adage: Practice what you preach. He has been able to effortlessly prove that switching to sustainable options is not a daunting task.
Featured Image Source: Haritha Keralam Mission/Facebook
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)