- The couple literally weaved ropes out of thousands of chips packets
- The couple invested ₹ 15,000 in their pilot project and built a bus stop
- The duo is aiming for community participation in reducing waste generation
“We are sitting on a plastic bomb,” the Supreme Court in 2013 cautioned India about its ever increasing plastic waste generation, after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) informed it that India generates 56 lakh tonnes of plastic waste annually. What’s worse is at this pace if India continues to use plastic, then by 2030 the waste generation is likely to go upto 165 million tonnes. In such a dreadful situation, merely imposing a plastic ban will not work out. The country needs to adopt innovative ways to recycle or reuse its plastic waste.
Environment conscious people across India have begun the herculean task of ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’. One such example is of a couple living in the city of Hyderabad. Prashant Lingam and Aruna Kappagantula decided to reuse the products that are difficult to dispose of. Two years ago when Ms Aruna was strolling in her colony, Swaroopnagar she came across a few men who were burning tyres and that is when the idea of reusing tyres and plastic items triggered in.
Along with her husband she started the ‘Recycle India’ initiative in 2015 and within two years the couple went on to build a house, water tank and a shelter bus stop all made out of plastic bottles.
The passion of reusing plastic is so much that the couple even dines on a table that made out of chips packets! If you enter Prashant’s and Aruna’s house, you may not pay heed to their dining table at first, however if you go closer and look intricately, you may find a packet of your favourite chips. Yes, the four-seater dining table is entirely made out of chips packets. When NDTV asked them about the number of packets used the couple said, “We’ve lost the count.” Eight months back, the couple literally weaved ropes out of thousands of chips packets, tied them up onto a metal frame and created an entire dining table which they fondly call ‘The Lays and Kurkure Dining Table’.
Passion For Plastics
To encourage the reuse of waste plastic bottles, Prashant and his wife Aruna conducted a workshop for the Hyderabad citizens where a house of bottles was made. It took 1 month, 5000 plastic bottles and a team of 20 people to construct this plastic bottle house. The bottles were purchased from scrap dealers at ₹ 1.40 per bottle. The skeleton of the house was made out of bamboos and has a height and width of 15 feet. Going the traditional way, cowdung was used to plaster the house and one side was left open for visitors to see.
In 2016, the house was dismantled and those bottles were reused besides the additional ones bought to make a water tank. With 11,000 plastic bottles, a 20 feet high water tank was made in which almost 11,000 litres of water can be stored.
Looking at the at the success of constructing water tank and the house, the couple decided to move beyond their house and do something for the society. “We first wanted to experiment and test the credibility of the plastic bottles. Once we were confident about it, we planned to address our colony’s problem of not having a bus stop,” says Prashant.
Despite various appeals to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) for years, no bus stop was constructed. The couple then decided to build a bus stop without GHMC’s permission. “Since we didn’t take any permission from the authorities, we designed the bus shelter in a way which could easily be dismantled,” says Prashant.
The couple invested ₹ 15,000 in their pilot project and constructed an 8 feet high bus shelter with 1000 plastic bottles. The bottles were drilled and a rope ran through them. To avoid excessive heating a thin gap is maintained between the bottles to let some air pass through the shelter. It has been two months since the knockdown model was constructed and the couple has been visiting the bus stop daily to keep a check. “Everyday, around 3 pm when the heat is maximum, one of us goes to the bus shelter to check if there is any kind of meltdown of plastic bottles due to excessive heat. However there is no damage so far,” says Aruna.
Currently there is no seating arrangement, but the couple soon plans to make seats out of discarded tyres. Since the bus shelter is built for masses, the fear of it getting destructed or tampered with remains, says Prashant.
The couple will soon take the idea of building plastic bottled bus shelters across the city to the GHMC. Some officials have visited the bus shelter and are highly impressed by it. “It (plastic bus shelter) is indeed an innovative way to tackle the problem of plastic waste. We will encourage all kinds of waste management ideas,” said Vijay Krishna, Deputy Commissioner at GHMC.
To spread awareness among youth and to cut down costs of purchasing plastic bottles, the couple has tied up with various colleges in the city to help them collect plastic bottles discarded from their canteens or cafeterias. “We want to trigger mindsets of the students that every product can be recycled and nothing is a ‘waste’. By involving students in our waste management project we will give them employment opportunities too,” says Prashant.
How Waste from the Municipal Corporation Office is getting recycled
Municipal wastes like tyres and drums are now getting converted into bright and innovative chairs, tables, dustbins, flowerpots, etc. The civic body pays the labour cost to this couple and in return they create beautiful furniture that gets placed either in public gardens or in municipal offices. These Swachh warriors are also working towards reducing the menace of litter by converting oil drums given by the municipal corporations into dustbins. The newly re-versioned dustbins are then placed across the city by the GHMC.
The husband-wife duo also share their innovative ideas and give lessons on waste management to the civic officials. “They (Aruna and Prashant) exhibit the recycled products in our office premises and through them we are creating awareness on recycling various products,” adds Mr. Krishna.
Impressed by the couple’s efforts towards waste management, the Central Zone of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) at Khairatabad has recently given them the contract of building a 2,400 square feet conference hall with just bamboos. “The eco-friendly and cost-effective hall will be constructed on the terrace of Khairatabad with an investment of ₹ 10 lakhs,” confirms Mr. Krishna.
The couple feels that this is just a beginning and they have a long way to go. Currently, the couple is in the process of developing furniture, especially chairs from cardboards that are usually abandoned from flex hoardings and donate it to the government schools, “These cardboards are as strong as the bamboos and are weather proof,” says Prashant. They are simultaneously working towards making ropes out of PET bottles.
The duo is aiming towards community participation in reducing waste generation and believes these creative and colorful recycled furniture and products are a great way to attract people’s attention.
People, especially children from my locality are fascinated by these items and besides there is a certain kind of awareness being created, which is what our ulterior motive is, concludes Aruna.
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