- A garden in Colaba recently got equipped with 4 eco-friendly benches
- The benches are made of recycled Tetra Pak cartons
- 18,000 Tetra Pak Cartons were used to make these 4 benches
More than 16,000 families from 40 housing societies came together and did their bit to save the environment and their city – Mumbai. Together in a span of 3 years, they have prevented more than 18,000 discarded plastic coated cartons commonly known as Tetra Pak cartons (named after the company that innovated the design) from landing up in the city’s already overstretched landfills. Not just that, these discarded tetra pak cartons have been given a new lease of life by converting these into eco-friendly garden benches. These benches can be found in Bombay Port Trust’s (BPT) Sagar Upvan garden in Colaba.
These eco-friendly benches are water proof, sturdy and can take weight of upto 3 people. The benches were inaugurated recently in the city and are part of an initiative led by city’s non-profit organisation Reducing Reusing Recycling Greenlife (RUR) in collaboration with Tetra Pak, Sahakari Bhandar, Reliance Smart and Fresh stores and residents of Colaba. The RUR Greenlife NGO helps the communities learn the process of recycling by converting the discarded cartons into different types of furniture mainly school desks and garden benches. They started a ‘Go Green With Tetra’ campaign back in 2010 and since then there has been no looking back.
Where It All Began
I used to visit many parks of the city and there was this one sight which was very common, that was the view of the beautiful garden surrounded with garbage. That used to hurt me a lot, I wanted to change this dark and grim reality. In 2014, I got to know about RUR Green and how they are recycling the cartons in the city effectively. It was fascinating to know that tetra pak cartons can be converted into garden benches and school desks. That’s when I got involved and started spreading the message to the society members on saving these cartons, said Cynthia D’Mello, who is the trustee of My Dream Colaba, a Colaba residents specific group.
From cartons of milk to curd and aerated drinks, every kind of carton was accepted. The members of My Dream Colaba after joining hands with RUR Green life started making residents aware about the benefits of recycling and saving the cartons through events specific to the area. Technology played a huge role, My Dream Colaba group also started sending WhatsApp messages to everyone in the society making sure that everyone gets involved and does their bit.
The idea to get garden benches out of Tetra Pak cartons was unique, it instantly caught people’s attention. They started saving the cartons, RUR Greenlife helped with setting up of cartons collection centres where people were expected to come and deposit the trash of the cartons, added Bella Shah, Member of My Dream Colaba.
Making A Change, One Tetra Pak Carton At A Time
RUR Greenlife has set up 44 tetra pak cartons collection centres within the city, all the Sahakari Bhandar stores and Reliance Smart and Fresh stores are included. These stores also guide people about the initiative started by RUR Greenlife and spread the message of recycling. Explaining the process of recycling and the thought process behind this innovative campaign, Monisha Narke, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, RUR Greenlife added,
Once the collection of cartons is done, it is sent for recycling process in Phalgur, where the cartons are transformed into thin sheets and then converted into furniture like benches and school desks. In 2010 when we launched this initiative of recycling cartons, we had one thing in mind, first that Tetra Pak cartons are fully recyclable, second, yet most of it goes into the city’s landfills untreated. We thought of introducing an interesting yet creative system where people can understand the motive behind the process of recycling. That’s when we thought of converting these into benches and school desks.
Since 2010, the organization has collected over 20 lakh cartons and recycled these into over 250 school desks and 100 garden benches in Mumbai, including the ones in Colaba. Around 4,500 Tetra Pak cartons are used to make one school desk and about 6,500 Tetra Pak cartons for a bench.
Initiatives like this prove that trash is valuable and if handled right can be converted into treasure. Here’s a great example to take a cue from and replicate elsewhere.