Chennai: When the government announced a ban on single use plastic early this year, Vatsala Parthasarathy (65) was extremely happy.
A resident of Journalist Colony, Thiruvanmiyur from 2005, she has been making her own eco-friendly bags and encouraging those around her to switch to cloth and jute.
Vatsala, formerly a Maths teacher, now takes tuitions for students at her home. It is during her free time that she makes bags, folders, pouches and bottle holders. “This is my passion and not a business,” she clarifies.
The first step, she recalls, was when she and her friends in the neighbourhood Vishnu Sahasranamam session, gave up using plastic cups at gatherings.
“I began teaching my students to be more environmentally aware,’ she says, adding that she gifts them with eco-friendly pouches every Children’s Day.
“I am happy that they have become environment-conscious. They do not litter the class and make it a point to use the bin. When the ban came into force, a government-run school had asked children not to use plastic pencil boxes. Following this, a photographer who lived nearby, asked me to make pouches and I gave away 75 of them,” she states.
Similarly, for Navarathri, Vatsala makes as many as 300 bags out of jute for the thamboolams.
“It makes me happy to see those around me taking these bags to work or shopping,” she smiles.
It may be noted that her products that are made in different colours and designs, are functional with a number of compartments.
“When I step into the main road and I see huge piles of plastic waste everywhere, it upsets me. All I am trying to do isto motivate people around me to go eco-friendly and think about alternatives for plastic. My neighbourhood which is close to the beach and surrounded by trees is also an inspiration,” she concludes.
Creativity in sustainability
Vatsala’s much-famed bags can be customised as per the occasion.
For instance, an upcoming party has her doing sequinned work on the items. Her recent denim bag has also come in for much praise.