It is the Indian Premier League (IPL) season again, and like every year, cricket buffs can be seen cheering their favourite teams with jerseys and flags in the stadium.
But what happens after the cricket match? Well, the fans leave a trail of trash – water bottles, food packets, jerseys, and flags. While many of them take back the jerseys home, the flags are usually discarded in the stadium or end up in our garbage bins along with other waste.
To counter this issue, Saahas Zero Waste and Swabhimaan, NGOs based in Bengaluru, along with Chirag Arora and NS Ramakanth, two waste crusaders, have come forward to upcycle discarded flags into cloth bags.
The flags are made from high-quality cloth material and the team has stitched 15,000 bags from these flags, and plans to produce 3,500 to 4,000 more bags by the end of this IPL season. The cost to make each bag, which can hold up to three to five kgs weight, is Rs 9.
Speaking about how the idea was implemented, NS Ramakanth told NDTV,
“I initially suggested the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) place bins where fans could drop flags post-match. These flags could then be reused. Unfortunately, the idea didn’t get accepted, and so I approached Saahas Zero Waste, an organisation that has been given the responsibility to collect all the waste during the matches, and asked them to segregate the flags.”
According to The Hindu, fans often leave flags near their seat or outside the stadium, or sometimes even dump it along with the wet waste. While the ones mixed with food cannot be used, the other crumpled flags are ironed and stitching into bags.
Once the bags are ready, they are handed over to Chirag, who then distributes it to the vendors for free.
Speaking to The Hindu, Chirag said,
“We are asking the vendors to use these bags instead of plastic. The objective is to create awareness among both citizens and vendors about not using plastic bags.”
Started in the month of April this year, Chirag decided to sponsor 1,000 cloth bags, for which he crowdfunded Rs 15,000. Speaking on the same to NDTV, he said:
“Whosoever contributes with whatever amount, I send them some bags and ask them to further distribute it to street vendors and hawkers. I’m not selling it to anyone because the idea is not to earn from it, but to manage waste and show how creatively it can be reused.”