Fancy a neta on your plastic bag?

A quick-thinking shopkeeper in Bhandup is turning political and other banners that deface the city into shopping bags; customers love them because they are sturdy

While you were busy complaining about the huge political banners defacing the city, a shop owner in Bhandup has come up with an innovative way of dealing with them. Kirti Shah, 43, who owns a farsan shop in Bhandup (west), turns these banners into shopping bags for his customers, an idea he came up with when he saw banners fallen on the roads. "The BMC picks up the banners and treats them as scrap. I realised that we could put them to better use," he says.

Pic/ Sameer Markande

Before the innovative idea struck him, Shah would provide cloth, paper or plastic bags above 50 microns to his customers. 'The banners are discarded at dumping grounds, which will only add to the pollution. So why not put them to use?" he asks.

Shah has distributed about 1,000 such bags amongst his regular customers already. "We started by showing a few customers the design of the bags, and they liked it. Our regular customers, who have bought the bags now use them everywhere they go," he smiles.

Since the banner is free, it costs us only Rs 5-7 to make each bag, which is what the plastic bags above 50 microns cost anyway. "But plastic bags are not sturdy. These are. And now, local organisations that put up banners have started giving them to us after their purpose is served, to make more such bags."

It seems to be working. Vaishali Sawla, housewife and a Bhandup resident, says, "The last time I shopped here, they offered me a bag made of flex banners and I readily took it as it is sturdy and can handle weight unlike plastic bags, which are delicate. The concept is good, as these banners are otherwise of no use," she feels.
Bharat Gala, a businessman who is a customer at the store is also impressed. "I actually bought more bags from the shop for carrying around otherwise too," he says.

The shopkeeper has since tied up with animal welfare NGO PAWS. "Since it has become compulsory to charge customers for the bags provided, I charge them for these bags and donate the amount to PAWS-Mumbai or directly handover the bags to the NGO for sale, so that they too are able to generate funds for the welfare of animals,"

"It serves to generate funds, provide bags to customers, curbs wastage of costly flex material and also saves us from pollution. We are also approaching advertising agencies and politicians to get flex-vinyl banners," confirms Sunish Subramanian Kunju, PAWS.

"We have even approached many political parties who have agreed to give us their banners, after they are removed. We use the reverse side (without any print) and make a sturdy bag out of it, which can be used for more than a year," says Shah.

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