Opt For Rented Cutlery For Your Next House Party & Ditch The Plastic Plates & Cups

Image Credits: Namma Ooru;Rent-A-Cutlery

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Your favourite ice cream store in Bengaluru has been in the news recently, but it’s not for their ice cream, rather for their bowls. In June 2019, a famous ice cream parlour in Bengaluru launched the “Bring Your Own Bowl” initiative to avoid single-use cups and containers. Customers are requested to carry their own bowls for their orders as a part of this campaign.

Be it for a small scoop of ice cream or buffet at a large gathering, single-use cutlery and plates seem to be everywhere. These are convenient to use and negate the hassles of cleaning up later, so it’s not surprising that their consumption has become a thoughtless act. We may have come up with ways and means to address food waste from our events, but what about the other waste we generate? If only there was a way around it. Well, how about looking into our own kitchens for inspiration and using reusable dinnerware?

Carrying Personal Cutlery Everywhere

Across the country, citizen-driven initiatives have come up with cutlery and plate banks to give people the option to rent reusable plates and cups for their events. Solid waste management expert Vani Murthy shared that the movement is the result of many individuals refusing to use single-use cutlery, carrying their personal glasses and spoons wherever they go. 

Pouch to carry your own cutlery.

“We have been talking about these things for quite some time and also implemented them in small ways. For example, when we had meetings to discuss waste management, we would carry our tumblers and spoons to the local eateries. People also consciously began talking about this, which brought about the BYOC or the ‘Bring Your Own Cup’ movement,” says Murthy.

No one has ever become poor by giving
-Anne Frank

As awareness spread and rental initiatives came into the picture, people in large apartment complexes invested in common dinner sets which could be used by the residents for a gathering. “This really goes to show that small steps matter, even if it’s just you in the entire wedding hall using your own cutlery,” Murthy added.

While the idea seems simple and definitely worth trying, people working behind these initiatives can vouch that bringing a change like this is nowhere near easy.

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Rent-A-Cutlery Movement In Bengaluru

Rishita Sharma who started Rent-A-cutlery in Whitefield along with Lakshmi Sankaran said that when they began working on this concept in 2016, people were not too receptive about it. “We were waste management volunteers in Whitefield, and we used to go to schools and colleges to raise awareness about this topic. We saw that disposables were everywhere, and we realised that people needed an alternative to stop using disposables,” she said.

When the duo suggested the idea to their community members, they found people were willing to invest in common cutlery and plate sets, but the maintenance aspect was a concern for them. Sharma and Sankaran went ahead and purchased about 100 plates, cups and spoons between them, hoping to share them with their close friends. This was how Rent-A-Cutlery officially started.

Crockery Bank For Everyone ‘s steel plates and glasses.

Not only have the number of plates increased at Rent-A-Cutlery today, but people have also joined the initiative by setting up branches all over Bengaluru. They also have a volunteer from Chennai who has set up a plate bank there. Rent-A-Cutlery goes one step ahead and uses only bio enzymes, prepared at home, to clean the plates and cups.

An Average Wedding Generates Two Truckloads Of Trash

So how could this be made into a norm? “The problem lies in the question itself,” believes P Natarajan of Namma Ooru Foundation who set up the Namma Cutlery Bank in Chennai in March this year.

An apartment in Bengaluru which used reusable plates and glasses during a gathering.

“We have to go back to celebrating in an eco-friendly way. Rentals were the norm even in the recent past. People would rent everything from tubelights, chairs, plates, cups and even the jugs used to serve water. Everything was cleaned and given back. There was no trash. Then the use and throw culture came in, and suddenly there is so much trash,” he says.

In case you are wondering how much trash is generated from single-use cutlery, then consider this – an average wedding with about 1000 guests generate close to two truckloads of garbage, going straight to the landfill.

Credits: Rent Eco Cutlery

Namma Cutlery Bank has about 200 small plates, cups, spoons and glasses for small to medium-sized events. Natarajan points out that bagasse plates are more expensive than the stainless steel alternatives, and in the case of cutlery made with areca nut leaves, they need to be soaked after use to compost them.  “Unless you take the necessary steps, purchasing and using these materials makes no sense,” he added.

Rented Cutlery Movement Is Growing

Just as with Rent-A-Cutlery, Namma Cutlery Bank was born from an organisation working on solid waste management. While they do get requests, people who are already inclined to these concepts are the ones embracing them. Natarajan shares that awareness is vital to include more people in such activities.

“We completely rely on social media to spread the message,” he said. “We also promote the concept within the communities we work with. We have a WhatsApp group where we share these ideas on a regular basis,” he added.

Rented Cutlery
Cleaning of plates and glasses using bio enzymes.

Rishita Sharma also agrees that people need to know about these options and the impact of their choices to consider going a different route. So far, Rent-A-Cutlery has reduced waste in over 200 events.

Sharma also started the #byocselfie challenge along with her friends Seema Sharma and Padma Naveen. “When it comes to larger gatherings, people are still worried about the hygiene factor and about how others will perceive the fact they are serving food on rented stainless steel plates. But the only way to work around these concerns is to constantly share positive stories of how using rented cutlery reduces a significant amount of waste.”

So what are you waiting for? The next time you are hosting a gathering at your place, pool in some plates from your neighbours or simply renting them. And when you rent a plate, make sure you share your story and inspire others to follow suit.  Here are a few options to consider renting plates, depending on where you are.

Adamya Chetana Plate Bank Bengaluru
Faridabad Crockery Bank Faridabad
Crockery Bank For Everyone Gurgaon
Tashi Cutlery Bank Hyderabad
Lean Trash Pune
Rent-Eco-Cutlery Pune
Crockery Bank Vadodara Vadodara

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

Image Credits: Namma Ooru;Rent-A-Cutlery

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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