Imagine walking to the market and seeing garbage piled up on the sides of the streets. Most of us might be irked by this situation, only to ignore it eventually. This was not the case with a few residents at Noida's Arun Vihar, who decided to find solutions to clear excess waste from their locality's markets.
Three years ago, seven residents from Arun Vihar formed a volunteer team in an attempt to bring about change and awareness in their community. Titled Saaph (Sustainable Alternatives and Awareness against single-use Plastics and Household waste), this citizen collective is passionate about making their society cleaner.
Harbingers of change
In a bid to make the shopkeepers and locals aware of the harmful impact of single-use plastics, Saaph covers the three local markets - Brahmaputra, Alaknanda, and Godavari - on a day-to-day basis. "Working in the field, we realised that the overall issue was of single-use emerging from an 'age of disposability'. We need to learn to go back to the culture of reuse," says Dr Supriya Sardana, a member of Saaph's core team.
Soon, they accommodated ideas beyond their initial movement against single-use plastics, incorporating concepts under an umbrella theme of reuse and recycle. Not only did they start advocating carrying one's own bottle and bag, they also distributed handmade paper bags to shopkeepers, and stored cloth bags for consumers near the market's gate.
The members have also organised small-scale composting projects in their individual wards. Events such as nukkad nataks [street plays], informative workshops and webinars on eco-bricks and sustainable menstruation are also part of their calendar.
The team has enrolled Bintix, a waste research organisation that collects segregated dry-waste from the neighbourhood every fortnight. This initiative now has over 100 registered families. Talking to us about how Saaph has impacted her, Dr Sikha Jindal Gupta says, "I have learnt a lot from Saaph, which has helped change my lifestyle."
Persistence makes perfect
Despite the pandemic, Saaph has been fervently working on their cause. When asked about her experience, Radhika Gulati says, "We wanted to be the change we wanted to see, and create practical solutions. It is challenging but persistence is key. The challenge lies in having sincerity; to do the right thing even if it takes some time."