Architect builds non-plastic options

Subham Agarwal
Gangtok: Subham Agarwal, a young environmental activist, has started a campaign against single-use plastic in Sikkim by providing biodegradable alternatives and spreading awareness about the harmful effects of plastic pollution on the environment.
The 24-year-old Agarwal, an architect by profession, said his campaign under the banner of "On Vert" - go green in French - is rooted in the concept of "being the change". "The rampant use of plastic was something that had bothered me for years. Until one day I finally decided to personally do something about it," he said.
Given that Sikkim is as much a part of the global problem of plastic pollution, Agarwal said he decided to start his campaign from his home state. "In Sikkim, we use more than 3 crore plastic straws each year and an extremely huge amount of plastic cutlery items as well. The weight of just these few items is thousands of tons. Such a huge mass of plastics eventually enter our landfills and water bodies, polluting the earth and the water."

In order to wean away the people from using plastic products, people, he said, will have to be provided alternatives, and which is exactly what his campaign is doing. "The use of various single-use plastic products like straws, spoons, forks, knives and plastic toothbrushes can easily be avoided...Environment-friendly alternatives to these items are being made available through my campaign," he said.
Some of the biodegradable alternatives that On Vert is currently providing are paper straws, wooden forks, spoons, knives and ice cream spoons, food packaging made of areca leaves and even bamboo toothbrushes with bristles made of corn fibre.
"Some more alternatives like shampoo bar, conditioner bar, soaps will be made available in the coming few weeks. In the little over two months since I started my campaign through On Vert, about 18 to 20 cafes and restaurants in Gangtok have switched to biodegradable items," he said.
According to him, each year 552 million shampoo bottles and more than 15 billion plastic toothbrushes are discarded in the world. "Shampoo and conditioner bars will make the use of plastic bottles redundant. What is more, the shampoo and conditioner bars being manufactured are both made from herbs and are 100 per cent organic. All these alternative products are being manufactured in different parts of the country," he said.
Agarwal admitted that the biodegradable items will be a little more expensive than the plastic ones, but given that some items like paper straws can be recycled, it will become part of the circular economy, which will be sustainable.
The young architect, who did his schooling from Tashi Namgyal Academy here, has helped designed some of the daily use biodegradable items. He also plans to conduct guest lectures on the problem of plastic pollution at different schools in Gangtok beginning with his alma mater.

The Telegraph
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Subham Agarwal, a young environmental activist, has started a campaign against single-use plastic in Sikkim by providing biodegradable alternatives and spreading awareness about the harmful effects of plastic pollution on the environment.

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