Plastic countdown: Awareness on ban is woefully limited to groups

Chennai: With just a few days left for the plastic ban to be enforced, there are people who are still unaware of it though the move has been lauded by environmentalists and sustainability-practitioners.

While some Chennaiites have already moved towards adopting alternatives, there are still people who are adamant about using plastic, and then there are those who are ignorant of the move.

When Saranya, a student residing in Kelambakkam, was asked how she was gearing up for the ban, she appeared clueless about the ban in the first place.

“I never knew that the government was going to ban plastic. I get my everyday groceries in a plastic bag from the store,” said a nonplussed Saranya.

Asked if she has the habit of using cloth bags, she said, “I carry a bag from home once in a while, but we mostly get in plastic carry bags.”

This is not the case for someone who lives in suburbs alone as people in the city are also found to be having either minimal knowledge or they have misinterpreted the ban.

“Has the government not extended the grace period by a year?” asked Ravichandran, tea vendor and resident of Butt Road in St Thomas Mount.

He further said he uses plastic bags and would try to switch to alternatives once the ban is implemented. Kumar from Porur said he always carries a cloth bag. However, what he showed this reporter was a non-woven polypropelene bag, which, again, is another form of plastic.

S Kasturirangan


But resident welfare associations in the city and suburbs are well aware of the ban and are actively engaged in creating awareness in their neighbourhoods.

S Kasturirangan, a resident of Choolaimedu, said, “We held a meeting with the residents’ welfare association and local traders to discuss about abiding by the rule. We have appealed to the residents to use cotton bags and platform vendors and traders to insist their customers bring bags on their own. We plan to circulate the message of avoiding plastic among the residents.”

Khamba pots being used by Sunil Jayaram for composting wet household waste.

However, a few residents of Mylapore opine that there has not been enough awareness about the ban and they are clueless about how to follow it.

Corroborating this is Sunil Jayaram, a resident of Chitlapakkam, who said he has been composting and trying to make his home plastic-free. “It is evident that the message has not gotten into people’s conscience and there are still many who get into a tussle if a shop refuses to provide plastic carry bags,” commented Sunil.

Though the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) claims it has been taking measures to create awareness, on-ground reality shows that a lot needs to be done.


C R Balaji

C R Balaji, a Mylapore resident, says, “I have been segregating my household waste and have been using cloth bags for the past many years; so the plastic ban rule is not a problem for me. The green warriors in the neighbourhood are urging vendors of Mylapore to chuck plastic. However, we are yet to see a change.”


Bhavani Prabhakar