Meet the trio solving vegetation crisis in Ladakh using plastic waste

In Ladakh, a team of three environmentalists is building a greenhouse at half the cost of a conventional one using eco-bricks, thus providing an ecosystem for farmers in the region to grow crops around the year.

Ladakh, which is in the northern region of India, and soon to be a Union Territory, doesn’t support year-round growth of vegetation. Due to its geographical location and harsh cold climate, crop production and growth is nearly impossible most months. Additionally, the region is also a victim to plastic pollution, whith huge piles of plastic waste littering the area because of all the tourist activity.

Looking at the lack of vegetation plus the heaps of plastic in Ladakh, local resident Jigmet Singge came up with a creative solution with Agrow, which he co-founded with architect Nischita Bysani from Bengaluru, and Akshata Pradhan from Shillong. The initiative is now solving farming issues by utilising existing plastic waste to build a greenhouse at half the cost of a conventional one.

The team of Agrow (Image: Edex Live)

The structure is being built with eco-bricks made from using plastic bottles stuffed together with sand, earth, husk, and cow dung, reports Daily Excelsior. According to Akshata, the greenhouse will be insulated and strong, and will serve as a perfect greenhouse.

The Agrow greenhouse costs Rs 20,000 including the eco-bricks, Jigmet told Edex Live.

“We have spoken to the people around us and they are willing to pay us the amount provided we deliver as promised. The only problem is that it takes an hour to fill a bottle and they need 8,000 for one greenhouse.”

The trio, who are Naropa Fellows, have been selected to go to IIT Mandi. The Naropa Fellowship is a one-year, post-graduate, academic programme designed towards building a better socio-economic environment in Ladakh and the greater Himalayas.

Jigmet recalled the time when the region was pristine:

"We did not have plastic wastes to start with. As the region was gradually opened to tourism we were introduced to the modern world of Maggi and Coke and along with that came the evils of plastic bottles and wrappers.”

But Agrow has great plans to tackle plastic waste as well as foster vegetation growth. Nischita told Edex Live,

“Choglamsar, near Leh, has a recycle plant but they have restricted capacity. What we are trying to do is use this waste to find out a solution to our affordable greenhouse. That way it helps us sort out two problems at a time.”

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