CHENNAI: Arecent post on Facebook by Bengaluru-based organisation, Rent-A-Cutlery caught our attention. They have expanded their service by completing their first order in Chennai for a baby shower function. Started in 2016 by Lakshmi Sankaran and Rishita Sharma — the cutlery bank helps in reducing disposable paper plates and cups. What started out as a community-level initiative has now developed into six branches across Bengaluru. The utensil bank has 200 steel plates, glasses, spoons, and bowls. The charge for one set comprising all the cutleries is Rs 15.
“One day, when the two of us were conducting an awareness session on waste management and segregation in our gated community — the audience raised questions of alternative options for plastics. Since gated communities usually conduct multiple parties and functions, instead of contributing to waste, we decided to invest and start a cutlery bank,” says Rishita.
Three months after its inception, people began acknowledging the idea. “They were skeptic about hygiene. So, we ensured the cutleries were washed with soapnuts and bio-enzyme to maintain quality. We would have saved around 80,000 disposables. Other communities seek guidance from us for implementing this in their apartments,” said Rishita. An inquiry from Anna Nagar led to the inception of a Chennai chapter of the venture.
While the concept of renting cutlery banks is not new and was widely prevalent 15 years ago, it took a backseat after the advent of single-use plastic and disposable options. People refrained from re-using cutleries fearing hygiene factors. Today, the concept has found its way back and is popular among several gated communities.
Two weeks back, Namma Ooru Foundation, a non-profit organisation introduced the Namma Cutlery Bank chapter in the city. In an effort to provide an eco-friendly and sustainable option of disposable cutlery — the bank started off with 200 cutlery sets. “We rent spoons, tiffin plates, cups, and tumblers. This will result in lesser load to landfills in the form of disposables and will also contribute to water conservation as the demand for paper cup goes down. We’ve just started, and immediately expanding it to all the geographical locations might not be possible. Right now we are present at Adyar. In fact, we used cutlery from our own bank for the fourth-year anniversary celebration of our organisation,” said Viji Ganesh, a member of Namma Ooru Foundation. Shobana Karthikeyan, a resident of Virugambakkam, along with Kala Arun and Padma Srinivasan runs a community crockery bank. As an extended project of waste management, the three partners have invested in a crockery bank. They rent them out with a minimal caution deposit for functions and parties within the community.
“We have 50 sets. The crockery comprising plates, tumblers and, spoons, needs to be booked two days in advance. It should be washed and returned within 48 hours. We do not have hiring cost but a refundable deposit will be collected. Of course, the pace picks up only after a while. But many communities have started having their own cutlery banks. It’s a good step,” shares Shobana.
Arul Priya, a resident of MRC Nagar, started a cutlery bank almost three years back. “We wanted to bring the renting cutlery model back. It strengthened our cause for the fight against plastic. These are cheaper options to cut down on disposable plastics. We purchase cutleries, share it among ourselves and do not rent. About forty of us take turns and maintain them for functions and pujas. We pay an incentive to the maid for washing them,” shares Arul Priya.
Jagatha, a resident of Velachery has also started a shop that sells cutlery sets. People can buy or hire based on the requirement. “We rent steel plates with banana leaf for functions. Home delivery option is available,” she says.
For details, call:
- 9731211364 (Rent-A-Cutlery)
- 8754483679 (Namma Cutlery Bank)