At a time when confusion still prevails among many over alternatives to single use plastic, which has been banned in the state, 31 resourceful children from a village in Kerala are on a mission to make people say ‘no to plastic’.
Thirty-one children from Kollengode gram panchayat in Palakkad district are making paper bags and distributing them for free to nearby houses and shops.
Kerala has set a precedent by imposing a blanket ban on all single use plastic items from January 1. But the move has not been welcomed uniformly; a section of traders have come out against it stating that there is no cheap alternative to single use plastic, especially to plastic carry bags.
It is in this backdrop that the 31 children of a ‘balasabha’ or children’s group under the Kudumbashree unit of Pavadi in Kollengode panchayat are on a venture to familiarise people with paper bags.
The children started this green venture last week and have so far distributed paper bags to more than a hundred houses and shops in the area. But they are not done yet. They are on a bigger mission, aiming to cover at least a thousand houses with the message ‘say no to plastic’.
Using old newspapers and used cloth pieces, the students have been making the paper bags without spending a single penny from their pocket.
Speaking to TNM, Rukiya Sahul Hameed, the coordinator of the Kudumbashree neighbourhood unit in Pavadi who is in charge of the balasabha, recounts how the children started the venture.
“The students themselves came up with this idea after the government imposed the plastic ban. Two of our Kudumbashree unit members had earlier undergone a training in paper bag making. They only needed to show it to them once, the kids learnt it quickly,” Rukiya says.
Not only are the children distributing paper bags to houses, but by marching door-to-door with anti-plastic placards the students are also creating green awareness in the village.
“They only spend a few hours every Sunday in the balasabha, but in a day they make more than a hundred paper bags. They are very excited about the venture,” says Rukiya.
In one of the videos shared by Pavadi Kudumbashree members, students can be seen marching in the village saying ‘Plastic bhoomiyude andhakan’ (Plastic is Earth’s killer) and ‘Venda venda plastic’ (Don’t need plastic).
These children at Pavadi in Kollengode panchayat of Palakkad district is on a green venture to distribute 1,000 paper bags to houses and shops in the region, for free. #PlasticBan #Kerala pic.twitter.com/xBgrBDMM4p— Neethu Joseph (@neethujoseph_15) January 14, 2020
All the 31 are school students studying in various classes up to Class 9.
“We never imagined it would get media attention. The children are thrilled and have now mooted the idea of making cloth bags once they are done making a thousand paper bags,” says Rukiya.