Conserving the Environment in Our Everyday LivesApril 15th, 2022
"Conserving the environment in our everyday lives" is a long-term project under our Social Action Program. Women from the ten artisan groups have already made a commitment to reduce their personal use of plastic items, and now they have taken on the challenge of reducing plastic pollution in their communities.
As a first step, a SHARE social worker organized an information session for program leaders from all the groups. A representative from the NGO Waste Winner organization talked about the harmful effects of plastic/polythene waste on the environment, and then explained how each person can make a difference by collecting plastic trash from her home and neighborhood and sending it for recycling. As a demonstration, the trainer brought waste she herself had collected and showed the artisans how to squeeze a month's worth of plastic into a small bag which could be easily stored in their homes.
The artisan leaders were enthusiastic and inspired, and they went home to get the message out to all the women. Getting everyone involved was important, so the SHARE social worker worked with the leaders to design presentations and training sessions. They were very effective at spreading the message and sharing their enthusiasm with the others. The response from all the artisans was very favorable, and the next challenge was to convert this positive vibe into action!
We needed partners who would recycle the plastic from the different groups who are located in different parts of greater Mumbai. It took two months of research and interviews to find three partners which fit our requirements and culture. We partnered with 5Recycle Foundation for artisans' groups in the Santa Cruz and Mumbai Central areas, Samarth Bharat for groups in Thane, and Dhyas Foundation for the group in Nallasopara. These organizations met with the artisans to explain how the process would work in each area. In some cases, the pickup van could come to the group's address, while in other cases the women would be required to go to a central pickup location.
With the assistance of the social worker, each group leader worked out the details of roles and responsibilities and possible routes and collection dates. The leaders further suggested that the responsibility of submitting plastic waste should be divided amongst all the members of the group, who could take turns doing the coordination and submission of the collected plastic. On January 16, 2022, Pragati was the first group to submit dry plastic waste. Groups in Santa Cruz followed in February, with 22 kgs of waste, and by the end of March, they were up to 30 kgs of plastic!
The next step in this program is to spread the knowledge so that others in the community understand the problem and realize that they can do something to help. There have already been positive results where women have spoken to relatives and neighbors, encouraging them to start their own plastic collection. Sessions for children to raise awareness and solicit their contribution have been planned for summer vacation time. The artisans' commitment and enthusiasm for this program will surely lead to raised awareness and less waste.
Once again the women are the pebbles that create ripples far and wide to make the world a better place!