Dr Ruby Makhija is replacing plastic with cloth bags
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Dr Ruby Makhija is replacing plastic with cloth bags

"By using one cloth bag, we can restrict around 500 plastic bags getting into the chain."

Dr Ruby Makhija is replacing plastic with cloth bags

Delhi: While the government of India has imposed a plastic ban pan India, effective from July 1, 2022, Dr Ruby Makhija, a resident of Navjeevan Nihar, Malviya Nagar, has been working towards presenting an alternative for plastic bags much before it.

After becoming an RWA member in her area, Ruby became invested in waste management in her area. From here, she felt a sense of responsibility towards sustaining the environment. She started working with MCD informally. After working for fur years, MCD offered her the brand ambassador position in 2021. She says, "The events fell in line one after another and pushed me towards the initiative." 

Dr Ruby Makhija, in November 2021, started an initiative, where she made cloth bags and supplied them in the markets for the public. However, initially, the initiative was not well received by the people because it was proving costlier than plastic bags. Shopkeepers refused to keep the bags for fear of losing customers. To get around this bottleneck, Makhija started 'Why Waste Wednesday foundation'. Through this foundation, she encourages people to ditch single-use plastic and spreads awareness about sustainable ways to save the environment.

The main challenge to make this initiative work was to source the raw material for manufacturing the bags at a low price. Talking about how they solved this issue, Mona Vashist, a consultant with Why Waste Wednesday says, "A lot of times, rich quality fabric is rejected due to minor flaws and we get that fabric at a very low cost. MCD has helped us a lot in the initiative." This way, the foundation presents a sustainable alternative to plastic bags.

She says, "By using one cloth bag, we can stop around 500 plastic bags from getting into the environment."

Dr Makhija believes that the use of single-use plastic is a major issue that needs to be addressed. She says, "We tried to make these cloth bags accessible to the public with 'borrow a bag policy' to get them into the habit of using cloth bags instead of plastic bags. However, this dependence on plastic bags is not going anywhere anytime soon."

Dr Ruby is the brand ambassador of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and a member of the Plastic management city-level task force. To curb the use of plastic bags, 'Why Waste Wednesday foundation,' in collaboration with MCD, has started a programme named 'Vikalp'. Under the programme, they have made cloth bags available at shops on rent. People can get a cloth bag for rupees 20, then return it and then get their refund.