Residents of Anna Nagar, Chennai, say no to single-use plastics

With the abundance of commercial outlets in the neighbourhood, it was no surprise that during the first few days of the plastic-ban, Anna Nagar topped the charts in terms of the quantity of single-use plastics seized.

However, this has reduced considerably as most residents have embraced the ban and are slowly moving away from plastics.

This could be supported with data from the Chennai Corporation that shows that the amount of seized single-use plastics in Anna Nagar zone is one of the lowest when compared to the city average. This couldn’t have been possible without self-awareness from the residents, say officials.

So far, the Chennai Corporation has collected 4.1 tonnes in Anna Nagar, 2.55 tonnes in Tiruvottiyur, 3.23 tonnes in Manali, 4.94 tonnes in Tondiarpet, 11.19 tonnes in Royapuram, 12.84 tonnes in Thiru-Vi-Ka Nagar, 6.09 tonnes in Ambattur, 5.23 tonnes in Teynampet, 6.6 tonnes in Valasaravakkam, 1.97 tonnes in Alandur, 2.43 tonnes in Adyar, 2.73 tonnes in Perungudi and 7.35 tonnes in Sholinganallur in January.

Ashokan, a pharmacy owner said, “A day after the ban was implemented, we still had had plastic covers left and decided to give it to customers till stocks run out. But our customers themselves refused to take them. Almost 50 per cent of the people who walk into my shop today to buy items in bulk, bring their own bag.”

Awareness programmes to avoid plastics have also been conducted by associations and schools in the neighbourhood. Amaravati Nagar residents took a pledge to not use plastics as part of their Republic Day celebrations. Students of Velammal and Thiru Vi Ka school also took part in initiatives this month to spread awareness about the ban and why it is needed.

What is heartening to see is that, in Anna Nagar, even small roadside eateries and shops have started using eco-friendly alternatives like banana leaves and aluminum foil. Dablu Raut, who sells chat items near Roundtana says, “I use plastic covers to wrap my plates and serve dishes as it was easier to clean. After the ban, I switched to banana leaves. Though the price of the leaves skyrocketed post the ban, it is slowly coming down and I expect it to get cheaper as more people start using it.”

However, Sarada, a vegetable vendor at the Aminjikarai market says, “Now, I buy a pack of 100 plastic bags for Rs 40. If I switch to jute or cloth bags, I will have to spend Rs 5 per bag. I don’t know if customers would be happy if I charge for the bags too. But, I do see that more people are bringing their own bags nowadays.”

While regular shops are switching to environment-friendly bags, a few TASMAC bars in the neighbourhood could still be seen giving plastic glasses and black covers.

A Harsha Vardhan