How cool is that! FIFA World Cup 2018 flex banners in Kerala to be reused as rooftops, pet shelters and plant bags

Two organisations have stepped in with a drive to cleanse the football-crazy Kerala of this hazardous menace of flex boards in the best humane way imaginable.

Published: 11th July 2018 05:34 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd November 2018 05:49 PM   |  A+A-

Brazil fans Kerala flex

Flex boards are made of  PVC plastic which is a major source of environmental pollution (Photo | Facebook/Brazil fans Kerala)

Online Desk

"Who will roof the chicken coop?"

This has been the best, perhaps the most overused joke of this World Cup among Kerala fans. Its origin can be traced back to their seemingly irrevocable habit of the football-frenzy groups to fill up roadsides, pavements, terraces and any other available open space with huge flex hoardings and banners of their favourite teams and players.

Teams will fall and perish with the progress of the tournament as there could be only one winner, but these hoardings, made of non-recyclable  PVC plastic, remain a major source of environmental pollution. 

READ | In Kerala, fan clubs spend a minimum of Rs 8,000 on World Cup flex hoardings

The fans know, even if their side lifts the cup or not, a day will arrive sooner or later that these giant boards will be of no use to anyone but for the chickens and hence the joke of housing the chicken.

Former champions Germany was the first hot-property to exit the tournament, soon followed by other favourites like Spain and Argentina. With the exit of Brazil in quarterfinals, the lion's share of flex boards has gone "orphaned" with no purpose left to serve. 

However, as we edge closer to the finale of the tournament many fans seem to have absolved only the humour and not the essence of the joke - leaving the flexes where they were affixed week before to degrade the surroundings.

This is where two organisations have stepped in with a drive to cleanse Kerala of this hazardous menace in virtuous ways.

"Handsome flexes for broken rooftops"

Blood Donors Kerala (BDK), a state-wide non-profit organisation that arranges blood for patients and accident victims have asked football fans to give them all fading flexes to make house roofs for the needy. The Kozhikode district unit is pioneering the campaign with the intention to help the residents of the district's slums to have a leak-proofed monsoon.

"Many fan clubs have contacted us already and have promised to bring the hoardings to our collection point at Gujarati street. We are getting calls from neighbouring districts as well, giving us the confidence to make it a pan-Kerala campaign," said Amjad, an executive member of the BDK who is in charge of the programme.

BDK has also decided to organise the second stage of the campaign at the tribal colonies of Wayanad and Nilambur area of Malappuram district.

"Many regional clubs have been contacting us asking for tips to coordinate similar campaigns in their respective areas. Even college authorities have contacted to know if banners used for seminars are accepted," he said.

Amjad added that fans associations of film stars have also pledged to contribute after seeing the post they put up in their official Facebook page. 

Kerala's first "flex bank"

"One phone call to help earth and man" is the tagline of "Flex Bank" - an initiative by the Alappuzha district committee of the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP), an organisation working with to popularize scientific outlook among people.  

The KSSP volunteers are aiming to make the joke a reality by collecting as much vinyl flexes as possible and make not just chicken coops but plant bags from them. With the blueprint for the campaign fully prepared, they are considering the FIFA World Cup as the ideal launching pad.

Raising the motto "Waste is unused wealth," KSSP is hoping to bay on public cooperation and government support than their organisational resources for the success of the initiative.

Explaining their course of action, Govind CS, one of the in-charge of the programme said: "Autorickshaw drivers are a crucial part of this campaign.  Our plan is to seek their help to spot and collect old hoardings from different parts of the district and transport it to the district environment office where we are planning to coordinate the rest of the campaign."

He said the district collector has promised to release a circular, making it mandatory to remove all flex boards within 15 days of establishment.  Such a ruling will force the responsible for ways to dispose of their hoardings and that's where the flex bank enters.

"It is not just associations and shopkeepers who have communicated with us so far but many flex printers have reached to us asking if we will accept waste prints from their shops. Thus good response from all sides are giving us the motivation to proceed," Govind said.

PVC which is used for making flex is a dangerous chemical substance as it contains chlorine which will emit dioxin and furan which are highly toxic. It cannot be recycled, but only be burned or dumped. 

PVC doesn't degrade easily either and is hence called poison plastic. It leaches harmful chemicals into the soil and finally into the groundwater. 

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had banned the use of flexes, but the directive is yet to be implemented in Kerala.


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