With the ban of thin plastic bags coming into force from 15th March 2011, Puttenahalli Neighbourhood Lake Improvement Trust (PNLIT) cloth shopping bags are in the market. It is said that one reusable bag eliminates an average of a 1000 plastic bags.
When the ban was first announced a few weeks ago, some of the shops on Puttenahalli Road had approached PNLIT members for the supply of cloth bags that can be sold in their shops. About the same time last year, some of us who were concerned about the uncontrolled use of plastic bags had tried to get these same shops to encourage cloth bags and give discounts to customers who bring their own bags, with limited success.
At that time we had collected a list of suppliers of cloth bags. Now, we took this as a good opportunity for PNLIT to create jobs in our vicinity. The idea was to get those who cannot work out of home or those who need extra income to make these bags that can be sold.
Over the last couple of weeks, we shared some bag design options with a few ladies from the Puttenahalli area. Most of them have their own sewing machines and they made some sample pieces. There are some who do not have machines who want to do this and we are trying to get them donated machines.
So the women from the Puttenahalli area, are happy to be able to work from home and who have started earning income of their own.
We’ve decided to avoid synthetic cloth and to use cotton / jute as far as possible, unless we get free cloth from which bags can be made. The bags are made from new cloth, are sturdy with good quality stitching, can be washed and are environmentally friendly.
As of now Fresh Greens fruit and vegetable shop on Puttenahalli Road has started selling the cloth bags supplied by PNLIT @ Rs 40.
There are a few sample pieces @ Rs 20 and Rs 15 also. PNLIT has put posters in the shop, informing people about the ban on thin plastic bags and asking people to use cloth bags. Anand, Ganesh and Kumar, the three brothers who own the shop, have been extremely understanding and accepting about the ban. Once they run out of their stock of thin plastic bags, they are clear that they do not want to use the 40 micron bags.
However, they say that some customers are not cooperative and get angry when they tell them that they will not give plastic carry bags. They are now planning to keep the 40 micron bags and charge Rs 2-3 per bag. Anand, who mans the shop says, "I have already started charging, even for the thin bags, just to discourage people and it works. They don’t want to pay for the plastic bag. Very soon, they will start bringing their own bags."
PNLIT is looking to spread this cloth bag effort to more outlets and is also exploring more economical cloth procurement options so that cloth bags can be made available at the lowest rate.
We look forward to the support of all JP Nagarites, in helping make our area free of plastic bags.