Repair and Reuse: Chennai Shows the Way

12 tonnes of E wastes, used clothes and footwear were received at this collection drive by Chennai's Kasturba Nagar residents.

Twelve tonnes of wastes including e wastes, clothes, matresses and footwear were received from around four hundred residents at two special collection drives organised by Chennai’s ROKA (Residents of Kasturba Nagar Association) giving a fillip to the concept of reuse, repair and recycle so that these don’t land up in landfills causing irreparable damage to the environment and ground water.

Ganesh a resident had brought a bag full of used toys, dresses and cardboard materials. This is the second time he deposits items no longer required. He told “This is sustainable. Someone could use this.  We thank this initiative. Expecting this drive we kept aside these things at home”.

Surabhi, a minimalist had come all the way from Selaiyur, 21 KM away. She had even collected items from a few of her friends. She says “Its a noble cause. I contribute as much I can”. 

The drive saw even saw environmentally concerned  children  contributing their used  items with enthusiasm. A class five girl had brought her big stuffed toy, shoes and socks. She said “Reusing is very important as landfills are becoming like huge mountains of wastes”. Meetakshara a class four student said “If we dump it in the garbage someone may burn plastic and cause pollution. By bringing here someone could use.”

Reiterating the concept pf repair and reuse, the centre had a cobbler, bag repairer and  tailor to repair footwear  or stich clothes to turn them usable. Also present  a zari dealer who paid for the zari in saris and dhotis.

Promoting reuse, the collection centre had a cobbler, tailor and a zari dealer to repair footwear, turn dresses usable and pay for extracted zari.

The entire collection involving a range of activities was put together by a group of twenty resident volunteers including high profile doctors, lawyers, entrpreneurs and journalists. Neeraja Arjun, an entrpreneur explains “We make lots of impulsive buying because of online shopping. We don’t think twice before buying. This is a way to remind ourselves how much we consume and how much goes without full utilisation”. Balaji an advocate says “The zero waste concept inspires me. When I see the numbers of collected items rapidly changing on the dashboard I feel so happy”.

The collected wastes would be processed by “Wasted 360 Solutions” a professional waste management aggregator. Ayesha Ajmal, its Business Development Manager said “We give e wastes in bulk to licensed recyclers. Clothes may be shredded to be used as fibre or stuffing material for matresses and gym bags. Cotton and hemp are recycleable”.

Swathi Ramanan a journalist with Adyar Times and Vice President of ROKA  said “ROKA has been striving for implementation of solid waste management practices. Since most of these  are bulk items and easily separateable at home, and dangerous to the environment, we thought of having such drives to make waste more purposeful”.

The venue, a school witnessed a range of cars and SUVs driving in with loads of discarded items in trolley bags to handover and mini trucks clearing the collection. Environmentalists are happy about this welcome change. Lauding the initiative,

Dr Jayshree Vencatesan, Managing Trustee Care Earth Trust says “What is commendable is the manner in which the effort has been sustained over six years.  It’s a reiteration of my conviction that being persistent and tenacious is a must for conservation efforts to become movements. All strength to the team.”

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Swathi (Team ROKA)

    Thank you so much for thus lovely story! We hope that others are inspired too to be mindful of buying unnecessary items and discard items Responsibly. And this starts at home with source segregation.

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