A Community of Refugee Women Are Making Edible Cutlery to Tackle Delhi’s Plastic Waste Woes!

Project Patradya is a student-led initiative that engages a community of women refugees to bring forth a substitute to harmful plastic utensils in the form of edible and environment friendly utensils.

Project Patradya is a Delhi-based student-led initiative that engages a community of women refugees to bring forth a substitute to harmful plastic utensils in the form of edible and environment friendly utensils.

A group of 40 students from Delhi is teaching women refugees from Afghanistan how to make edible cutlery as part of the Patradaya Project which aims to address the issue of plastic waste disposal.

Students part of the Enactus KMC programme in Delhi. Photo Credit: Enactus KMC Facebook Page

As the world attempts to grapple with two of the most current global issues, the refugee crisis and plastic waste disposal, these students of Kirori Mal College (KMC) have devised a way to tackle the two simultaneously by employing women who have left their war-stricken countries to make cutlery that are both edible and biodegradable. The project is supported through Enactus, an international non-profit organization that works with leaders of today and tomorrow to create a sustainable world.

The community of women that the project works with are all refugees from Afghanistan now settled in Bhogul District of Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi. They use healthy grains such as ragi, millet and wheat to make a range of products including cups and bowls. Working with a team of professional bakers to devise the perfect recipe, the edible products come in a range of flavours including chocolate and mint so can be selected on the basis of personal taste or to compliment the dish being served.

An edible bowl made by the women part of the Project Patradya. Facebook Credit: Enactus KMC Facebook Page

Being edible items, their shelf-life is 15 days and they have been certified fit for human consumption according to the regulated safety standards. If the user prefers not to eat the cutlery after use, they can be planted and be completely decomposed within two weeks.

The improper disposal of plastic waste continues to be a pressing issue for India. It is estimated by environmental NGO Toxic Links that India’s consumption of plastic rises on an average of 10 percent each year, with Delhi alone being accountable for generating 250,000 tons of plastic waste annually. In the face of such figures, this student-led initiative is a welcomed attempt at finding sustainable solutions to the issue.

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The impacts of the project are far-reaching. Socially, the projects help to reintegrate women affected by war back into society and help to empower them by up-skilling them in a craft whilst offering employment through on-the-job training. The project itself is environmentally friendly as it not only helps to cut down the use of plastic but it also creates products that can be disposed of in an eco-friendly manner without adding to the masses of plastic waste. It’s economically viable too as the project uses the proceeds it makes through sales of its products as income to the women.

The students hopes that within three years the women will be able to take complete control of the project at all levels.

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