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Mumbai : As Maharashtra braces for the ban on plastic bags, a group of environment-conscious citizens have been encouraging Mumbaikars to recycle their waste by giving them eco bags made of jute, cotton or cloth in return.

As a part of their ‘Bag for Cause’ campaign, the group, Green Yatra, have so far collected 100 tonnes of plastic, electronic and other recyclable waste from housing societies in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). In return, they have gifted over 20,000 bags.

Simultaneously, Green Yatra, which has 20 members and over 1,000 volunteers, claims to have planted over 1.3 lakh fruit trees, such as, coconut, mango, chickoo, guava, pomegranate, across MMR since 2010. “Plastic bags are one of the primary sources of marine litter. Earlier, we did not get a good response since people were not interested. But after the ban proposal, people realised it is important to go plastic-free,” said Pradeep Tripathi, founder, Green Yatra, adding, “All types of dry waste coming to us is being either sent for recycling, or being returned to the industries, or being reused. The goal is to inculcate the habit of using alternatives to plastic. People giving waste can opt for plants instead of a bag,” Pradeep said.

In September 2017, state environment minister Ramdas Kadam announced that Maharashtra will ban the use, sale, possession and manufacturing of all kinds of plastic bags and packaged water bottles from Gudi Padwa.

The waste that comes to the NGO is either sent for recycling or returned to the industries and reused.

Tripathi said their campaign also helps empower underprivileged and tribal women. “A woman can make 15-100 bags daily and earn a good amount of money. The women designing and stitching eco-friendly bags can earn up to Rs 10,000. We have identified women in both rural and urban areas to help make these bags. These bags can carry up to 15 kg of weight.” The group runs a training centre in Ambadi in Thane, dedicated to tribal women since 2012. The group plans to empower 1,000 tribal women by the end of 2018 by setting up more training centres across the state.

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Free Press Journal