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Plastic ban in India

The center has issued guidelines to all states asking them to ban the use of select single-use plastics effective from July 1, 2022. Earbuds with plastic sticks, plastic sticks for balloons, plastic flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene (thermocol) for decoration, plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straw, trays, wrapping or packing films around sweet boxes, invitation cards, and cigarette packets, plastic or PVC banners less than 100 microns and stirrers.

The adverse impacts linked to littered single-use plastic items on both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems are globally recognized.

Some alternatives that can be used instead:
1. Paper, jute, glass, wood, and clay, among others, can be a better and low-cost alternative to the banned items.

There are many small enterprises and entrepreneurs in the country who can meet the rising demand for such alternatives.

2. Stainless steel made up of various metals such as iron, chromium, and nickel, among others can be used.

3. Bamboo can be a major alternative as it is produced in abundance in the country. It's a highly biodegradable item.

4. Wood is biodegradable, and the has potential to be one of the best alternative solutions.

 In today’s world, Go Green is a fast-paced concept that millions of people are adopting. Inspiration from nature is booming across lifestyle areas. Nature-inspired organic beauty products are on the rise too. Changing the perception of the consumers globally towards animal-free products is fueling the demand for naturally derived eco-friendly and organic products.The Indian market and consumers are no different. 

Indian consumers have also realized, though a little later than the global phenomenon, that the real answer to health and well-being and a more sustainable lifestyle is in using eco-friendly natural and organic products. A study showed that though 86 percent of the Indian consumers consider natural and organic products, only 44 percent of them actually buy and use them. Even this is big and definitely underlines a trend very strongly for a huge boom in the not distant future. The comparatively lower conversion rate to organic product buying is primarily due to the higher cost and expense associated with organic products and this is precisely why many brands with 100 percent natural and organic products were launched in India with a global vision to bring organic products within the affordable reach of the critical mass with an accessible price point.

The eco-friendly product market has grown geometrically over the last 7 years or so globally and India is no exception. A research study by TerraChoice, a global marketing company revealed a 73 percent growth in the eco-friendly product market over the last 5-7 years and more new companies and products are making entry into this space with each passing day. 

When we talk about India, we all know that pollution is a massive concern. Despite concerted efforts and huge growth potential, India's green market remains at a nascent stage. While the growth of green industries requires policies that stimulate both demand and supply to achieve market growth. Indian policies have only managed to successfully increase production capacities for green products without a similar boost in demand. Indeed, green industries in India find it difficult to capture the market owing to consumer perceptions and preferences. Consumers tend to purchase goods that are produced using more pollutive processes even as they are willing to switch to sustainable products; there are various reasons: they are restricted by the large costs of environmentally sustainable products; there is a lack of an enabling environment to create better access to green products; an overall dearth of information about available green products and their benefits; and a lack of confidence regarding what is termed ‘green’ by companies. A shift in consumer perceptions and preferences towards green products can be achieved by addressing the issues on the demand side. The policy instruments are intended to increase market access and boost the demand for green industries as alternatives to conventional highly polluting industries. The impact would create environmental benefits whilst also fostering green growth for India. An increase in the demand for green products not only can boost sustainability, but also create a huge potential for fostering economic growth and increasing jobs in the country in a post-pandemic world. Given the rapid global shift toward green sources, investing in green industries will further India’s prominence and centrality in global climate action. Undoubtedly, the first step towards this is to foster demand at home.

 

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I was lucky enough to visit Balaramapuram handloom on handloom day itself. Balaramapuram in the Thiruvananthapuram district is one of the leading handloom products in Kerala. Apart from handloom products, furniture, clothes, electrical products, and metal are all relevant in this village.

This is how the history of the Balaramapuram handloom is told

Handloom was first introduced to Kerala by Maharaja Balarama Varma in 1799 and 1810. He brought 7 handloom families from Tamil Nadu who belong to the Shaliar sect to Kerala. That is how the handloom industry in Kerala started, all the weavers seen today in Balaramapuram are their families and relatives. I went to Balaramapuram as a part of many hearings and investigations. Rajesh, a member of the local weaving family, who is our friend, said that it will be very crowded because it is Onam and it is a holiday. So, we reached the place around 9 o'clock. The first intention was to see weaving and looms. As it was Sunday, there were no weavers in any of the tharis. At the start of the journey, Rajesh was accompanied by a local leader who walked with him and explained everything in detail. The first person I saw was Subramaniam, one of the oldest weavers in Balaramapuram. Adjacent to the house is three looms where the Kerala mundu or dhoti is made. It was possible to see the dhotis woven in various kasavs. Later, I went to see a Golden Kasavu loom, from where sarees are made for weddings using expensive gold thread. He gave information about various types of yarn and construction. He gave a bundle of gold thread and silver thread in his hand as a gift. Later they went up and down in many houses and looms and all of them were people over 50 or 60 years old. Everyone saw a lot, talked and asked a lot of information. The story of a period was to be told. Each one of them narrated about the present situation which is disappearing day by day due to various reasons, from that glorious time to now. For each dhoti or saree, each weaver gets a very small amount, but the middleman or a business person also gets a good profit. The increase in the price of goods and the fact that the new generation does not enter this sector do not affect the work sector of weaving. This culture is disappearing day by day. Lack of income for labor keeps the new generation away from this field. All of them are looking for a new job, instead, the old generation weavers themselves are forced to continue this job despite their health. There are many things that we can do and the first thing is to make handloom fabrics a part of our clothes at least once. Weavers and individual weaving units should be organized and re-energized to bring the production together in order to unite this culture which has been going away and decaying since then.

 

to be continued

 

Harsha Puthusserry