The pandemic induced lockdown has led to cleaner air and better water across the country – however, one of the biggest environmental damage of the pandemic has been the increased use of single-use plastics and plastic waste.
With every purchase we make; be it vegetables, groceries, or even ordering in food, the amount of plastic that is entering our homes has increased exponentially. While India has committed to phasing out the use of single-use plastic by 2022 during the pandemic, the use of plastic products in the form of gloves, face shields, packaging, and others has also increased.
In a unique initiative, The Mumbai Plastic Recyclothon, an award-winning plastic donation-recycling citizen initiative of Project Mumbai has announced that it will donate one kilogram of grocery for every kilogram of plastic waste donated by Mumbaikars.
Project Mumbai started their first campaign, which involved collecting plastic waste and converting them into useable furniture in October 2018 and subsequently did another one in October 2019.
Plastic waste being collected by Project Mumbai volunteers.
The second campaign also made its way into Limca Book of Records 2020, for being the largest citizen volunteering initiative for plastic donation and recycling.
From October 2019, the campaign was held month-on-month given the huge volumes of plastic waste that were being collected. This campaign has resulted in close to 200 benches being installed across Mumbai. You can read more about this initiative in the story The Better India (TBI) has covered here.
TBI caught up with Shishir Joshi, CEO and founder of Project Mumbai, who says, “The essence of what we are doing has been best captured by the tagline of the campaign – Mumbai ke liye kuch bhi karega (For Mumbai, we will do anything.)”
Things to know about the campaign:
- The registration is open for residents of Mumbai and Thane until 25 September 2020.
- The collection will start on 3 October and will end on 8 October 2020.
- This is one way to celebrate the Festival of Giving, DaanUtsav.
- The plastic donated by citizens will get recycled into civic amenities, including benches for municipal open spaces and gardens, and pencil boxes for school children.
Project Mumbai will organise a pick-up of the plastic from across Mumbai and Thane. Once done, the plastic collected will get weighed at the end of each day, and the total weight of plastic collected will be matched in groceries, which will include rice, dal, and pulses.
Shishir explains, “In July, during the lockdown, we had managed to collect almost 1-ton plastic waste during our drive and we are hopeful of collecting between 2.5 to 3 tons during the October campaign of ours.” Shishir also mentioned that various corporates have shown interest in sponsoring things to be added to the grocery pack.
What will the grocery kit contain?
Explaining this, Shishir says, “Rice, aata, dal, pulses, sugar, and salt is what the kit will essentially contain. Each kit will have groceries amounting to about 12 kilograms; 5 kgs of rice, 3 kgs of aata, 2 kgs of two different kinds of dal, ½ kg salt and sugar amongst a few other things. The idea is to ensure that this kit lasts for atleast 15 days for a family of four.”
The kits will be assembled by the NGO Project Mumbai. Highlighting the need to exercise caution even during this collection drive, Shishir says, “Like when we undertook the collection drive in July, the safety of our volunteers is of paramount concern to us. Each volunteer will be wearing a PPE suit and if any donor is found to be without a mask, we will have to refuse to collect the plastic waste from them.”
The idea is also to minimise the outdoor exposure that people have. Giving them groceries that last about fifteen days will ensure that they remain indoors atleast for the period, says Shishir.
Project Mumbai volunteers plastic waste collective drive.
“We will be adding glucose biscuits, which will be sponsored by Parle-G. We also have some notebook manufacturers who have expressed interest in adding notebooks for kids in the grocery kit,” he said. These pre-packed grocery kits will be distributed to less-privileged families who have been badly impacted by the ongoing pandemic.
How to sign up?
- If you are a resident of Mumbai or Thane, you can sign up to be a part of this campaign.
- Click here to access the registration form.
- Fill out the form, which includes name, address, amount of plastic being donated (approx.), pick up location, and your contact details.
- Once the form is filled out, the pick up will be scheduled from the drop off locations.
- Please be mindful of what is being donated; only plastic waste will be accepted. No other form of waste including broken chairs, sofas, household garbage or wet waste will be collected.
Project Mumbai was recently awarded the United Nations SDG Solidarity Action Award 2020, for its humanitarian work during COVID 19. This honour was bestowed upon only 50 organisations across the world. “We owe the success and accolades to the large army of committed citizen volunteers across Mumbai,” adds Shishir.
Project Mumbai wishes to take this campaign to other cities as well and invites the public to come together and drive this initiative. You can reach out and get more information about the project here.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)