Recycling at its best – Conserve

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In childhood days, I used to watch a cartoon “Captain Planet”. In this show, the superhero, Mr. Captain Planet used to teach us what things we should do to keep our environment and mother Earth a healthy planet. One of the things was “recycling unused materials or garbage”. Most of us like to dump unused materials in garbage vans instead of making it use in some other way. But there are some people who believe in producing useful mankind materials from such garbage dumps.

One Anita Ahujaof them is Anita Ahuja. She believes in producing gold from garbage.Anita Ahuja, with her husband, Shalabh, created a lucrative business venture out of plastic waste, named Conserve in 1988. The organization transforms discarded plastic bags into a variety of fashionable products that are sold in high-end retail outlets abroad. In this unique entrepreneurial partnership, Anita works with ragpickers in the city of Delhi, raising their income levels and offering them an alternative to the squalor and grime of garbage dumps.

ConserveConserve employs around three hundred workers and involves them in all aspects of the business, allowing them to build equity and learn useful skills. Through a process Anita invented, she converts discarded plastic bags into large sheets which are used to make a range of commercially successful goods. The final products—handbags, file folders, coasters, and other household items—are marketed and sold in first-world luxury goods markets, creating the potential for a shift in both how ragpickers perceive their own skills, and in the public perception of ragpickers. Conserve is also a training ground for ragpickers, whom Anita encourages to found their own fabrication units for plastic sheets through an assured buyback arrangement.

Today, Conserve India employs and trains hundreds of people from Delhi’s most disadvantaged communities to clear their streets of the plague of plastic bag waste.  Once the waste bags are turned into HRP products they are sold for profits which can be spent in those same communities on education and welfare programmes. Thus, together with the ragpicker community, she is removing plastic  from the waste stream and building a social venture that is profitable and sustainable.

More information can be checked out at http://www.conserveindia.org/. By visiting their website, you can also find ways to contribute this cause.

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