Assam based NGO Parivartan, recently invited a German expert to conduct a workshop on Upcycling Plastic. The main idea was to create awareness in the local communities of the problems associated with plastic garbage and to encourage Upcycling of plastic waste instead of littering or burning.
The workshop touched upon the usual suspects in the plastic waste menace story by talking about:
- Problems associated with plastic littering and burning.
- The value of the wasted resources.
- Creating useful and desirable things out of waste by the means of Upcycling (ideally as an income-generating measure).
- Promoting creativity, out-of-the-box thinking and new skills in participants.
Over the last century, plastic has taken over the planet. On the one hand, plastic seems a miracle material, on the other hand, it is a curse. Plastic bags, made of depletable natural gas or petroleum resources, are often used only for a matter of minutes. Yet they last in the environment for hundreds of years, shredding into ever-smaller pieces but never fully breaking down and releasing toxins in the process. Low grade plastic is not only presenting an ugly site in millions of heaps all over but also choking up earth and killing animals which feed on it. Plastics have been linked with a slew of health concerns, including certain types of cancer and infertility.
[creativ_alertbox icon=”thumbs-down” colour=”red” custom_colour=”#dd3333″]Worldwide, a trillion single-use plastic bags, the worst pollutants, are used each year, nearly 2 million each minute![/creativ_alertbox][creativ_alertbox icon=”thumbs-up” colour=”green” custom_colour=”#a7d686″]One of the fastest and easiest techniques of upcycling discarded plastic is by turning it into Plarn – Plastic Yarn.[/creativ_alertbox]
Plarn is created out of plastic bags and other packaging materials by cutting them into thin strips and connecting them to a long yarn which can then be used for different crocheting techniques. Plarn can be used to create bags, totes, rugs, mats, pillows, baskets, storage bins etc. Plarn weaving techniques could be devised to create big sheets of a cheap, light, water and weatherproof material.
Countries the world over have taken measures including legislations to curb the use of plastic bags but have achieved limited success. More than the making of legislation or laws, it is the mass contact programs and the workshops, which promote recycling and use of better quality plastic, that will help us rid of the problem. Corporate Houses can play a major role in creating and implementing large scale plastic Upcycling projects across their areas of operation. Any initiative aimed at creating awareness about plastic waste is a great first step. However, environment & sustainability experts point out that to be really effective- wp initiatives must offer solutions that have a long term and sustainable impact as a mandatory follow up step to creating awareness about the consequences of the ever piling up plastic waste.
[creativ_alertbox icon=”ok” colour=”blue” custom_colour=”#a7d686″]Plastic Waste Upcycling Projects by Corporates would be an eligible wp activity as per the Companies Act, section (ii) & (iv) -for promoting employment enhancing vocational skills & ensuring environmental sustainability respectively.[/creativ_alertbox]
Such projects could have a 360 degree approach towards tackling the plastic menace by following a step-by-step approach:
- Creating Awareness: about the hazards of Plastic Waste accumulation
- Providing Alternatives: like distributing locally made recycled cloth bags
- On Ground Impact Oriented Activities: Organize Plastic Waste Collection drives
- Introducing Sustainable Solutions: Organize Plastic Waste Upcycling Workshops
- Employment & Revenue Generation: Sale or dissemination of Upcycled Plastic products
Experts emphasize that a well-researched, result-oriented approach is the requisite evolutionary step for wp in India is to become meaningful and rise beyond the old tradition of a good picture opportunity and a general Press Release.