Single-use plastic products are a grave environmental hazard with a number of Indian states finally putting curbs on their use. While we may or may not have taken to using plastic alternatives in our everyday life, there is one person who is making efforts to limit the use of plastic in a small but significant way.
Meet Sameera Satija who, in a bid to reduce the use of disposable plates and glasses, has launched a ‘crockery bank’ that lends steel utensils to various programmes and events – all free of cost.
Explaining how she started this one-of-the-kind initiative, Satija, a central government employee, told indianexpress.com she had always liked how in summer months some Good Samaritans would serve water to commuters. However, the 45-year-old Gurugram resident, in an email interview, added, “The large number of disposable plates, glasses that were left behind after any bhandara, langar, chabeel in public places always appalled me. The plastic waste would clog drains and get stuck in horticulture iron nets. Sometimes, animals swallow them because of leftover food items sticking to them.”
Satija has on many occasions tried to explain the ill-effects of serving eatables in plastic plates and other such disposables. “People do understand but everyone has their own reason for using them. So, I came up with this idea to provide reusable crockery for free as asking people to buy them was not a practical thing,” she said.
With her own money, Satija made a beginning with around 100 steel glasses and 75 plates and created a Facebook page called ‘Crockery Bank for Everyone’ with a simple formula “ask – use – wash – return”.
She initially procured the first batch of utensils with help from a friend who knew someone from a factory. Her first venture was ahead of Nirzala Akadashi when she lent steel glasses for lassi to people organising Chabeel last month. “I started with glasses only and gave them to two groups. To my satisfaction, we could avoid a considerable amount of disposable trash.”
One of the groups, she said, “kept the glasses as they organise Chabeel regularly.” Much to her pleasure, the other group donated some glasses and, in just a few weeks, her collection rose to 400 utensils.
As the word spread, many people came forward to help her monetarily and the bank is only growing bigger. However, she stresses that she only allowed them to contribute only after using the utensils themselves and adding crockery to the bank.
On challenges of reusing utensils, she said, “Washing of utensils is a non-issue if it is a house party or bhandara and langar in temples. The problem arises at events roadsides or public places where there is no easy access to water. I am considering talking to civic bodies to provide water in such cases.”
As of now, borrowing of utensils from her bank is only possible in Gurugram. Satija, however, hopes her initiative will encourage others to start this at a community level in other places too. Any takers?