India is currently grappling with a significant environmental challenge: the country produces an alarming 62 million tonnes of plastic in the form of disposable plastic crockery. A staggering 92% of this plastic ends up littering our streets and waterways, as it's discarded without being recycled. This is due to the slow decomposition rate of plastic and a culture that has become reliant on disposable items for convenience.
Disposable plastic crockery has become a go-to for many due to its affordability, especially during large events, marriages and gatherings, a common part of Indian culture. The convenience of disposable utensils also appeals to many, as they require minimal effort to transport and dispose of.
However, the Indian Government, led by Shri Narendra Modi, has been making strides towards reducing this reliance on plastic. Their ban on single-use plastic has made a considerable dent in reducing plastic waste, although illegal black markets persist due to a sudden implementation of the ban and the lack of easily accessible alternatives.
In an effort to bring about a change, the Aditri Foundation has joined hands with a village in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, led by their innovative leader, the 'Hockey Wali Sarpanch', Mrs. Neeru Yadav. Drawing inspiration from India's past, where a culture of cooperation and sharing prevailed, they have established a "Bartan Bank" (utensil bank). Borrowing utensils from relatives during large celebrations was common, promoting societal harmony and discouraging wasteful practices. This initiative is an innovative step towards reviving that culture, in addition to combating the menace of disposable plastic crockery.
In the village of Lambi, under the leadership of Mrs. Yadav, villagers can now borrow steel crockery free of charge for their events, providing a sustainable alternative to disposable plastic items. This initiative not only reduces plastic waste but also revives the communal sharing practices of yesteryears. Under this unique initiative by ‘Hockey Wali Sarpanch’ Neeru Yadav and the Aditri Foundation, about 14 marriages and mass gatherings have been organized by using the ‘Bartan Bank’ facility. In this unique facility, about 1000 plates, 2000 bowls, 2000 glasses, 2000 spoons and 50 jugs are donated by Sarpanch Neeru Yadav for making the village ‘garbage free and plastic free’.
Mrs. Neeru Yadav's innovative approach shows that community-led efforts can greatly help in moving towards a more sustainable future. Scaling up such initiatives could serve as a way to bridge the gap left by the ban on single-use plastics, enabling a swift transition to environmentally-friendly alternatives.
Bartan Bank is more than just an open utensil bank; it is a symbol of India's steps towards sustainability and an example of community spirit in action. As Mrs. Neeru Yadav asserts, it is about reviving the lost traditions that once served our society and environment so well. It's time to turn the page on disposable plastic and usher in a new era of sustainability and community cooperation.
Under her leadership, the Farmers Producer Organisation (FPO) is established and this FPO works towards boosting farmers' income by organizing them into cooperatives, enabling them to collectively bargain for better prices for their produce. FPOs also assist farmers in accessing credit, seeds, fertilizers, and other inputs more easily, thus reducing their dependence on intermediaries. Neeru Yadav, with her experience in managing social change in the village, is ideally positioned to ensure the success of this initiative.
Another initiative championed by Neeru Yadav is the establishment of 'Water ATMs' in her village. These automated water dispensing units provide clean and safe drinking water to villagers, reducing the prevalence of water-borne diseases. Installed in public spaces, the Water ATMs are accessible 24/7 and charge a minimal fee, making them a sustainable solution to the village's water needs.
Mrs. Yadav has also shown her commitment to sustainable agriculture by promoting organic farming practices. She has arranged workshops and training sessions on organic farming methods, encouraging farmers to switch to these practices. The objective is to reduce the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, thus preserving soil fertility and protecting the environment.
In her mission to improve the health and nutrition of her village, Mrs. Yadav has also initiated a mid-day meal scheme in the local schools. The initiative involves providing hot, nutritious meals to the students, promoting better health and improving school attendance rates.
Neeru Yadav's inspiring work extends to energy conservation as well. She has led an initiative to replace conventional streetlights in the village with energy-efficient LED lights. This measure not only conserves energy but also reduces the village's electricity expenses, thereby freeing up funds for other developmental projects.
Through her innovative and dedicated leadership, Neeru Yadav has shown that effective, sustainable change can be brought about at the grassroots level. Her various initiatives underscore her commitment to the overall development of her village and the welfare of its inhabitants. Each initiative, from the Bartan Bank to the FPO, serves as an example for others to emulate, contributing to India's journey towards a greener and more sustainable future.