The setup was ready for a nine-year-old girl’s birthday party. Birthday cake and candles, a bunch of excited friends in party frocks, the games were all in place and so was the food. But, here’s the twist, the balloons were replaced by badminton racquets, trees acted as the bouncy, the cake table (for the homemade cake) was a large rock and sheets spread over the grass replaced the plastic chairs.
Anasuya Dasgupta discovered the charm of hosting a plastic-free party in verdant surroundings in 2016. And there’s been no looking back since. Her daughter Adhirajnee Dasgupta recently turned 11 and looks forward to celebrating her birthdays in Lodhi Gardens every year.
I love the idea of hosting my daughter’s birthday at Lodhi Gardens as we do our little bit by reducing carbon footprints. Children run around and play traditional games, they are not dependent on music or disco lights; our catering is also plastic-free, says Dasgupta. According to Chintan, an environmental research and action group, Delhi is the largest producer of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in India, generating 8000 metric tonnes per day. By 2020 this number will increase to 23,000 tonnes. The path might be long and tough but a certain set of Delhiites such as Dasgupta are taking baby steps to protect the earth.
Thankfully, there’s enough happening around the city to support them. Whether it is an adult or a child’s birthday party or a marriage, there is always a way to go
plastic-free. When we’re celebrating a happy occasion, we should also celebrate the planet. We’re all part of this ecosystem. Just like you can’t have a party where your neighbors come under collapse, the same way you can’t have a party where the planet comes under collapse says Bharati Chaturvedi, founder, and director of Chintan.
The day after the birthday party is often the most taxing. Apart from sorting out the leftovers, there’s another Herculean task disposing of the plastic waste. And one look at the community waste bin with mountains of plastic waste collected might make you rethink your party itself. As per Chintan, Delhi Plastic Bag (Manufacture, Sale, and Usage) and Non- Biodegradable garbage (control) Act 2001: Issued by the Govt.of NCT, Delhi, bans the use of plastic bags, which are below 20 microns in thickness. It also bans the use of colored and recycled bags for storing, packaging and carrying foodstuffs because of toxic dyes, which can leach out into the food. It carries a huge fine, as high as `25,000, for manufacturing them.
However, parties almost always defy these norms. That is why crockery banks across the city are perhaps doing the biggest favor on the environment. And mostly free of cost. Fashion boutique owner Geetika Jain started an initiative called Sambhav Hai Plate Bank’ in her apartments, M2K near Model Town.
“I was so upset to see the overflowing plastic plates that were collected after a bhandara in our apartments. Considering we live so near the Bhalaswa landfill,it pained me to realize how we’re adding to it. So I just bought 100 partition steel plates and sent out a message on our society WhatsApp group asking people to borrow plates from me if they’re throwing any party,” says Jain. She was pleasantly surprised to see how her idea was lapped up and now she has more than 500 plates donated by people. Jain has loaned her cutlery for school functions, kitty parties, birthday parties and more. While the bank is free of cost, one just needs to return the cutlery in a clean condition.
At the other end of the city, in Indirapuram, Delhi’s NCR region, just a stone’s throw away from the Ghazipur landfill, Archana Garg has started a similar initiative. An English teacher and environment enthusiast, Garg founded Trash Trimmers in April 2018 and has catered over 25 parties with her cutlery bank.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The mere mention of a child’s birthday party conjures up images of children seated in lines eating cake and chips out of a plastic plate and asking refills of cold drinks in styrofoam glasses. But as Bob Dylan says, The Times They Are a-Changin, some kind folks around town are finding alternatives, lest we die under a mound of plastic waste. Take for instance Ecoware, one of India’s first and largest sustainable packaging companies that uses the waste of common agricultural crops to make and sell 100 percent biodegradable and compostable packaging. Founder Rhea Singhal, who was awarded Nari Shakti by the president this year, says, Single- use plastics and thermocol have collectively caused untold damage to the environment and have an adverse impact on human health.
Ecoware allows you to party without any stress and is a like-for-like replacement of plastic. It is affordable, available everywhere and exhibits better properties. “Ecoware, which is natural oil and waterproof, can be microwaved safely up to 140 degrees Celsius and frozen up to -20 degrees Celsius, contains 0 percent plastic and is 100 percent biodegradable,” says Singhal.
The same way, Swiggy, one of India’s biggest food delivery services, has been taking active steps to cut plastic use. About a year ago, Swiggy launched Packaging Assist’a first of its kind marketplace for restaurant partners to access a variety of packing solutions include eco-friendly options made of paper and glass.
Swiggy is also working with multiple design consultants and manufacturers to come up with more innovative and eco-friendly packaging solutions, says a Swiggy spokesperson, adding, Hundreds of our restaurant partners in Deli have turned to eco-friendly and sustainable solutions through the Packaging Assist program. It connects restaurants with vendors and offers eco-friendly and food grade certified materials, including leakproof, sturdy, and heat-insulant packaging materials.
These eco-warriors like Ecoware have clearly paved the way for a better tomorrow. It’s now our turn to follow the path and party, in the real sense.
Source: Times of India