As many as 600 shops in Pimple Saudagar area in Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) will shun the use of plastic bags and switch to bags made of cloth. At the turn of calendar year to 2018, Pimple Saudagar in the twin town will arguably become the first suburban area to attempt go plastic-free. The mission is collectively being spearheaded by the residents and shopkeepers in this area with the help of corporator Vitthal Kate, whose team has been working on this idea since 2015.
“For the last two years, we have been working on addressing the problem of safe plastic disposal and improving waste management which includes generating manure from waste. Knowing the hazards of plastic, we decided to switch from using plastic bags and replace them with cloth bags instead,” said Kate, whose team has undertaken numerous sensitisation drives in the locality.
For the last one month, the area has seen three road rallies, spreading awareness about the harmful effects of plastic. Stickers urging people to carry cloth bags are seen at the entrance of almost shops, big and small. With the area predominated by IT professionals, many of whom are tenants and residents of this locality, societies have urged all residents to cooperate and extend their support for this cause.
“On many occasions, we do not get enough cooperation from tenants and we hope to gain better support from them this time around,” said Santosh Maskar, chairman of Roseland Residency, one of the prime housing societies in the locality.
Initially, the team distributed about 20,000 bags at the weekly markets made out of cloth and urged people to carry them along every time they went shopping. But the move did not bring expected results.
“We observed that people would return empty-handed for shopping and again seek plastic bags. We wanted to stop this, along with promoting safe practices for a healthy environment,” added Kate.
That is when the local administration went seeking help from shopkeepers and heads of societies to stop the use of plastic bags.
Regular meetings were called, with nearly every society in the locality and about 500-600 small shopkeepers and big shop owners, who were asked to phase out plastic bags completely and replace them with cloth-made ones on a nominal initial charge.
“This is a good move and we too will no longer have to stock plastic bags as customers will hopefully carry their own bags now on,” said a hopeful Madan Pingle, a roadside street vendor who sells vegetables in the locality.