From water bottles to soda bottles, every year tonnes of plastic waste end up going to the already overflowing landfills. We know that plastic waste is not biodegradable, but do we know how long does it take for a plastic bottle to decompose itself? The average time for a plastic bottle to completely degrade is at least 450 years and it can even take some bottles 1000 years. Putting plastic to some productive use rather than let these pile up in the garbage dump, was what drove the duo of Amit Kumar Bharti, aged 19 and Saran Kumar S, aged 18, to start their own venture of making gardens using discarded plastic and other waste items.
Common ‘Swachh’ Interest Brought Them Together
Amit, a resident of Varanasi has three sisters, four brothers, a father and a mother to look after. His father is a daily wage worker and gets around Rs. 400-500 per day, given the poverty Amit could not pursue his education properly. He will be appearing for his class X board exam next year, this is after he took a break for one year to work to support his family and save up to pursue his education after a gap of two years. One of the local NGOs is also helping him complete his high school education. The teacher at the NGO asked Amit to apply for the Ashoka Youth Venture programme, an initiative in Bengaluru that unites and collaborates young change makers across the world. This was just help Amit zero in on some vocation to pursue and earn a living on the side, even as he continued his education. This made Amit moved from Varanasi to Bengaluru.
On the other hand, Saran a resident of Banaswadi locality of Bengaluru, also face similar trials and tribulations like Amit. He too comes from a poor family, his mother works as a maid and gets Rs. 8,000 a month and his father works as a labourer in a nearby factory and gets Rs. 12,000 a month. He is the only son and has to shoulder the responsibility of both his parents. He believes that education is the only way out of poverty. His ultimate aim is to study as much as he can and settled with a good post in hand thereby working on part time basis for his interest towards ‘Clean India’ mission. He has recently cleared his PU exams and is waiting for the results and for now works as an office assistant in a local company and also delivers newspapers. Saran’s boss is affiliated with Ashoka Youth Venture Programme and knew Saran’s interest towards cleaning-up his surroundings and making them garbage free. He introduced Saran to Amit given their common interests. Once the swachh crusaders came together there was no stopping. They decided to collaborate and work on ways to not just clean up India but also make it green.
I have always seen plastic littered everywhere in India, while I was growing up, I knew, I would want to do something that can effectively reduce this kind of waste, says the young waste warrior Amit Kumar who thought of setting up his own social initiative in his late teens to deal with plastic waste woes of India.
The two started working on the concept of urban container gardening in which they beautify the home and office spaces in the city by making plastic gardens. On being asked how he came up with the idea of making garden out of plastic waste, Amit said, “Many foreigners used to visit our NGO, one day we were taught different gardening skills by an American lady. I knew I would want to do something like this in the near future, I anyways come from an agricultural background, for me farming is my bread and butter. But, my ultimate dream was to do something for the environment. I just joined my two dreams together – reduce plastic waste and work as a farmer or a gardener and that’s when I took up the challenge of making gardens and terraces using plastic bottles and other waste items so that I can fulfill the dream of Clean India to some extent,” added Amit.
Today, they have successfully transformed many home and office spaces in Bengaluru, the garden city of India.
Making Bengaluru Greener With Plastic Gardens
These waste warriors do everything from scratch. From setting up the garden made out of plastic waste to helping people grow their own vegetables, Amit and Sarah assist people through the process.
The seeds are germinated in-house and nurtured until they are strong enough to be installed in the gardens for people to grow in-house vegetables.
From locally available flowers to all kinds of veggies, we help people grow everything in their own space. Till now we have successfully planted onions, chillies, lettuce, spinach, bitter guard, tomatoes to name a few. Coming to flowers and plants, we have planted money plants, tulsi, etc. To do this kind of gardening, one needs technical knowledge, but this is a no-brainer and anyone with few tips can do it, explains Amit.
The best part about this type of gardening is that this can be done even in the smallest of small areas. Amit and Saran ensures that the infrastructure made by them is suitable for the particular season. The duo apart from setting up the gardens, also train people by telling them how they should take care of the environment created by them.
Nothing is too technical, if the area is too small for growing plants then we create a special bed for plants which is 5 feet long and has a width of 3 feet. We also ensure there is proper sunlight or coverage from sun depending on the type of plant or garden we are creating. Once the space is created, we give guidance of maintenance to the users, added Amit.
Explaining the process of collection of the waste materials in order to create an infrastructure Saran added,
First we source materials from various dealers at cheap rates then we work on the designs and create frames on which we can then plant the vegetables or pots. The best thing is that our pots or containers are also made out of plastic waste.
Fighting For Swachhta Against All Odds
The duo come from not so financially strong background and has faced many hardships in their young age, they started working early when they were in their schools so as they can earn bread and butter for their family, still they never lost their determination to succeed in making India clean and swachh. Amit and Sarah both believe that together they will one day transform each and every city of India with their plastic gardens.
The waste champions sign off by saying, people know that they need to manage the waste they generate in some or the other way. There is lot of awareness among them about waste issues India is currently grappling with, they just need solutions, and we are just doing that.
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