Say it loud – I’m green and I’m proud.
We’ve replaced ‘black’ with ‘green’ in this famous James Brown number, as what we had assumed to be a less-talked-about issue among our retail community, is appreciatively being talked about and pondered upon. The first two parts of this series plainly put forth the idea of encouraging the use of handmade and biodegradable shopping bags. These two stories, in the last two days, easily had more than double the expected impact. Retailers approached Indiaretailing to know about the makers of such bags, and vice versa, while some also shared their experiences and reasoning for not being able to find alternatives.
Here it is, the final part, discussing some alternative ideas, acknowledging those interested in using biodegradable bags and appreciating the ones taking pains in creating the same.
Chander Shaker Baddam of Luxor Writing Instruments mailed to Indiaretailing enquiring about Jan Sandesh, the NGO that sells paper bags handcrafted by needy women.
Sharing plans of supplying eco-friendly plastic bags to corporate retailers, Gaurav Vora, director, Black Sheep Ventures, the company that has been supplying bags to various leading retailers, told Indiaretailing: “We are planning to introduce the concept of a ‘lifetime bag’, wherein a customer will have an option of buying a long-lasting plastic bag. These bags will not be dumped by the consumer; instead, he will bring it back to the outlet every time he comes to shop. If damaged, this bag will also be replaced free of cost, while the worn-out bag can be sent for recycling, ensuring its further utility and also preventing it from harming the environment.”
Retailers including Westside, Planet M, Globus and Reliance source bags from Black Sheep Ventures, and are probably considering the company’s proposal of introducing the ‘lifetime bag’
TS Ashwin of Odyssey expressed his support of biodegradable shopping bags and told Indiaretailing that for the last four years, Odyssey has been intermittently sourcing such bags from an NGO. He said, “All our products – toys, for instance – cannot be sold in a paper bag, as they have varied sizes and shape. However, we do use them for smaller items, and plan to introduce biodegradable bags at all our express-format stores that sell smaller products.” Ashwin assured he will engage an NGO to get such bags, while also making it a point to remind that it’s not just plastic that is harmful – even paper is not environment-friendly as it’s obtained from trees. He stated that the company is exploring options to have a 100 per cent eco-friendly solution.
People Tree is another retailer who, in association with an NGO, has been using green bags. Speaking to Indiaretailing about their idea of introducing environment-friendly bags, Satyajit Ranjan of People Tree said, “Since our inception, our motive has been to introduce environment-friendly products through our shops. We have identified tremendous potential in Jan Sandesh and, hence, are sourcing bags from them. In a month, we take around 700-800 bags from them.”
People Tree retails garments, jewellery, books and accessories. The company operates through a franchisee in Great India Place mall in Noida and also has its own outlets in Pondicherry and Surajkund.
Literacy India introduced itself to Indiaretailing, claiming it has an eco-friendly solution. Speaking to Indiaretailing, Indrani Singh, founder of Literacy India, a charitable organisation that has been supplying waste-paper bags to various corporate groups, said, “We have been delivering paper bags to Revolutions, a fashion retailer based in Noida, and Tupperware, a direct-selling company and manufacturer of kitchen ware. Till date none of the retail biggies have contacted us, though we do have the potential of delivering such products to them.”
Literacy India is a Gurgaon-based NGO that focuses on providing education and self-employment opportunities for the needy children in villages.
It is to be noted here that NGOs that are in the process of making paper bags actually craft these by using waste newspapers (newsprint) generally obtained from junk dealers, and this paper is biodegradable and can be recycled to produce paper maché handicraft.
– By Ranjan Kaplish and Satrajit Sen