In an earnest attempt to eliminate plastic from our lives, we all have adopted many changes in our lives. However, the one thing that we have not been able to replace is the ubiquitous jhhadu (broom). Mostly, the handles of these brooms are made of plastic, and every time we discard a broom, the plastic ends up in a land-fill near us.
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While individually it might not seem like a big amount, but in India alone, almost 40,000 metric tons of plastic is used for broom handles. And inevitably, all of them end up in landfills.
To reduce the use of such plastic, an Indian Forest Services (IFS) officer Prasada Rao, xcurrently posted in Tripura, has come up with a sustainable solution.
Bamboo To The Rescue
Prasada Rao and his team have replaced plastic with bamboo for broom handles. Not only is bamboo easily available, but is also a friend of the environment. Broom-making is an important forestry enterprise in several parts of the country and is also an important source of income to local communities, according to Rao.
Supporting The Tribal Communities
In a conversation with The Better India, the 2010-batch officer says, “This started about seven months ago as a project under the Van Dhan Vikas Karyakram, which means ‘Forest Treasure Betterment Scheme’. The idea was to use naturally available resources to produce a commodity that is widely used.”
Moreover, his initiative has helped around 1000 tribal households get employment. They are involved in all the processes of the project – right from procurement of material to assembling and the packaging of the bamboo handles.
“Working toward the upliftment of the tribals in the area is one of the most passionate areas of my work,” he tells me. It gives me immense happiness to see the kind of impact we are making,” he says.
The team working under the name – Tripura Rehabilitation Plantation Corporation – now aims to make about 4 lakh brooms this year and hopes to increase the production by tenfold in the next year.
“We are gearing up for larger production and are sure of reaching our target. Where earlier, the raw material had to be sent outside for processing, now we are equipped to process and produce the product ourselves,” he informs.
When he told me about the price difference between these brooms and ones that come with plastic handles, I was amazed. A plastic broom can cost you anywhere between Rs 50 to Rs 170, depending on the brand and the place of purchase. These bamboo brooms are priced between Rs 35 to 40, making them a cheaper, sustainable alternative to plastic.
What’s the impact on those making the product?
Rao explains the math behind making the brooms. He says, “If we take the cost of each broom to be Rs 35, then the cost for procuring the raw materials to make the broom comes to Rs 15, cost of making the bamboo handle is Rs 6, and then putting it together is another Rs 6. This total amount of Rs 27 is given to the tribal who makes it. With more and more orders coming in, the opportunity for the tribals also increases accordingly.”
Furthermore, there are reasons behind using bamboo as broom handles.
- Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing grass, and the more you cut the bamboo the better it grows. Just like grass.
- One species of bamboo can actually grow to a massive 35 inches per day (or 1.5 inches per hour)
- While it takes many years for a tree to grow, bamboo plants take around 5 years to fully grow and mature.
- Unlike the popular belief that a bamboo handle will be heavy and may cause discomfort, it is very light and easy to maneuver.
- They are elegant and aesthetically designed as well
How to Buy One?
“We have been getting many calls from all across the country and have just received an order for almost 15,000 pieces,” says Rao. As of now, the product is available only in Tripura and you can reach out to Rao at +919402307944 to place your orders.
“We are in talks with e-retail platforms and hope to list the product on those very soon.”
The intent behind this social initiative is simple. Help the tribal community become more economically independent while helping the environment at the same time.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)