This duo from Bengaluru is tackling plastic waste by renting cutleries

Rishita Sharma and Lakshmi Sankaran have been renting out cutleries to various occasions and events through their Rent-A-Cutlery initiative.

Over the past few years, plastic has become a big menace. Irresponsible management of plastic waste has resulted in serious land and ocean pollution.

To give a clear picture, according to the UN, the world has generated more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic since the early 1950s, and out of this, 60 percent have either ended up inland or ocean.

From banning single-use plastic to opting for biodegradable products, many countries and individuals have taken steps to tackle the issue.

Rishita Sharma (left) and Lakshmi Sankaran (right) (Image: NDTV)

And making a difference in this front is Bengaluru-based Rishita Sharma and Lakshmi Sankaran. The duo is making a difference through an initiative called Rent-a-Cutlery since 2016.

Started with the concept of reducing waste, this cutlery bank aims to reduce disposable paper plates and cups as well. It has six branches across the city at present.

As an alternative, the bank now provides steel plates, glasses, spoons, and bowls, and charges for each set. For instance, each set comprising all the cutleries like stainless steels and cups will cost Rs 15.

The bank has managed to reduce cutlery waste in almost 200 events across Bengaluru to date. What makes them unique is the fact that they use only bio-enzymes prepared at home to clean the plates and cups.

Humble beginnings

Speaking to New Indian Express, Rishita said,

“One day, when the two of us were conducting an awareness session on waste management and segregation in our gated community — the audience raised questions of alternative options for plastics. Since gated communities usually conduct multiple parties and functions, instead of contributing to waste, we decided to invest and start a cutlery bank.”

It was only a matter of time when people soon started acknowledging the concept. However, many questioned the hygiene of these products. The duo promised that each cutlery would be washed with bio-enzymes. Over the years, the duo has managed to contain around 80,000 disposables.

A green route

Inspired by the concept of the Rent-A-Cutlery initiative, P Natarajan of Namma Ooru Foundation set up the Namma Cutlery Bank in Chennai earlier this year. Speaking to Efforts For Good, he said,

 “We have to go back to celebrate in an eco-friendly way. Rentals were the norm even in the recent past. People would rent everything - from tube lights, 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.”

The stainless steel plates

Now, a wedding generates nearly two truckloads of waste, which ends up in landfills, he says.

In addition to Rent-A-Cutlery, Rishita has also started a challenge called #byocselfie along with her friends.

Speaking about the challenge she said,

“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”, reports Efforts For Good.

(Edited by Megha Reddy)


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