Eco Bags Project
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To phase out all single-use (Non woven and paper) carry bags from Ladakh through continuous awareness generation and vigorous campaigning among the local community and visiting tourists.
To make durable bags out of fabric scraps from local tailors as a sustainable alternative to the waste generating single-use carry bags.
To save fabrics from being burnt, and make useful items out of it.
The Problem: Single-use carry bags in Ladakh
In Ladakh, plastic carry bags were banned many years ago by the efforts of local civil society organisations and the local government, to reduce waste production and plastic pollution in this pristine, mountainous region.
But, in place of plastic carry bags, we started using Polypropylene (PP) and paper carry bags, which are also designed for disposing after a few uses. Most people mistake PP bags as cloth bags. PP is actually a class of plastic, and although recyclable, is not recycled in Ladakh.
Likewise, paper is biodegradable, but since paper is produced from wood, manufacturing of paper takes a high toll on the environment. Parallel to this, a lot of fabric scraps are produced from local tailors in Leh, which find their way to the main dumpsite in the city, where they are burnt in the open or incinerated.
Our Solution: Reusable Bags from Local Fabric Waste
The Eco Bags Project aims at eliminating the waste produced from single-use, throwaway PP and paper carry bags by firstly, informing and persuading residents to refuse carry bags, instead bring their own bags and secondly, recovering fabric scraps from local tailors to make shopping bags for introducing in the market as the sustainable alternative to PP and paper carry bags.
Fabric waste disposal in Ladakh, and our Zero Waste intervention (in green box).
The Project has a four-pronged strategy for accomplishing its goals:
Campaigning: “Refuse carry bag, Bring your own bag”
Run a virtual and physical campaign called “Bring your own bag” in schools, offices, social media and other events to inform people about the waste produced from PP and paper carry bags, and persuade them to “Refuse” carry bags, instead bring their own bags from home.
Tailoring skill development sessions (office of Anjuman-e-Imamia, Leh).
Managing fabric waste by stitching Eco Bags and other items
Collect fabric scraps from local tailors on a regular basis; sort the fabrics according to material, size and colour; design and stitch Eco bags out of it, using local workforce; create innovative, multi-functional, utility-oriented designs of bags in future.
Promoting and marketing Eco Bags
Promote the Eco bags as the sustainable alternative to single-use carry bags through social media, in public events, and at schools and offices. Introduce the Eco bags in the market for sale. Almost all proceeds from the sales to be redirected to the Project to make it financially self-sustained.
Reduce the use of all single-use carry bags in Ladakh by providing the alternative of reusable cloth bags.
Conserve precious fabrics by not letting them be thrown out and burnt.
Counter the common perception that waste is valueless. By using fabric scraps to stitch durable bags, waste would be accorded both social and economic value.
Support local economy
Support the local economy by diverting fabric scraps to the market in the form of durable carry bags.
Develop tailoring skills among locals, and create opportunities for them to earn by applying those skills.
The 6R principle of the Zero Waste approach, namely RETHINK, REFUSE, REDUCE, REPAIR & REUSE, RECOVER, ROT, offers almost every tool, which if implemented persistently, can help us reduce our waste as well as utilise the resources in our community to the maximum.
In Ladakh, the practice of taking carry bags from shops is a newly formed culture. In olden days, locals used to carry baskets from home for buying things. Nowadays, most customers take carry bags from shops because it is easier than bringing their own bags from home and because the carry bags come free so they do not mind taking them. The large amount of waste generated on a daily basis from throwaway carry bags can be prevented completely and relatively easily by continuously educating residents to follow the Zero Waste principle of “Refuse.”
“Recover” and “Reuse”
The fabric scraps generated from local tailor shops constitute a large amount of waste. In the current Municipal SWM system, fabrics have absolutely no value, so they are burnt in the open or incinerated. Fabrics can be prevented from being wasted by applying the Zero Waste principle of “recover.” Fabrics can be collected before they hit the waste stream and stitched into bags which can be the sustainable alternative to single-use, throwaway PP and paper carry bags.
Tailoring skill development among locals
Conduct a series of training sessions to develop or enhance tailoring skills among members of self-help groups and other interested individuals to be able to stitch good quality, utility-oriented bags from fabric scraps. To be followed by, furnishing select tailors with electric sewing machines for stitching at competitive speed which can cater to the needs of the market.