Chennai: It all started with the thought of composting vegetable and fruit wastes in her community. Today, a technical lead-turned-woman entrepreneur has been taking the lead in popularising eco-friendly products, especially in creating alternatives to single-use plastic and making the general public aware of the environmental issues arising from plastic.
The founder of ‘Namma Boomi’, Arul Priya, through her organisation, aims now at pioneering a plastic-free shop. What prompted her to go the eco-friendly way? “We live in a community (Beliciaa towers). I realised how lots of vegetable and fruit wastes were being thrown out every day. Initially I set up a Kambha inside the complex but that was not enough for the whole community. That made us ideate big and then going for a community composting pit,” she said. She is also the person behind the MRC Nagar composting pit.
It was an interaction with waste management expert Mr Vellore Srinivasan that specifically triggered the thought of completely scrapping plastic, believes the young business woman. “If we segregate different waste items and send them to the recyclers, there will be new products. But we generally don’t take the effort of segregation and just throw away all the waste in a plastic cover, which means we are risking the life of cows. Chances are a cow will eat up the whole thing, not bothering about what is going inside”, said Arul, recalling a Facebook pic showing plastic covers being taken out of the herbivorous cow.
The lady, who once quit her job to take care of her son, is single-handedly and efficiently handling both family and work life and trying to reach the new eco-friendly products to the people and making them understand the benefits of using them. “I started off with areca plates, challenging the popularity of thermocol plates which are made from petroleum. I succeeded in ushering in a change.
Though initially a little hesitant, people in my community gradually shifted from thermocol plates to areca plates”, reminisces Priya about her first step towards success. It was not just convincing the community people out of thermocol plates. Starting with waste segregation at the community level to bringing in stainless steel plates in the Sai Baba temple, the journey involved a lot of door-to-door campaigning, says Priya, whose client list now includes big names like Hindustan Unilever, Hatsun Agro, Indisca magic, Murugappa group of companies etc.
Now Arul Piya’s Nammabhoomi has been manufacturing paper bags, jute bags and paper pencils and she has also been actively promoting bagasse products, edible spoons and paper straws cloth bags, apart from promoting areca plates (manufactured by an partner cum friend) .
It’s not just everyday items like carrybag cover (mainly used to keep carrybags/small gifts) or paper pencils with edible food colour (to prevent the graphite from coming in direct contact with the mouth as children have a tendency to chew pencils) or cloth bags to keep leafy vegetables fresh for upto 7 days, the work also involves providing sanitary cloth pads.
Regardless of all the difficulties, the lady who once got MRC Nagar the green local award on world environment day, still makes it a point to visit hotels / educational institutes to take the ‘green’ message to everyone possible and strive for an eco-friendly environment.