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.

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

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

Image Credits: Namma Ooru;Rent-A-Cutlery

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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