Replacing single - use plastic with banana leaves

Replacing  single - use  plastic  with  banana  leaves
By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/13/2019 7:21:02 AM IST

 A small town 26 kms from Kohima called Chiephobozou is saying no to plastics in a rather unconventional but clever way. They have decided to replace plastic with leaves to package items or to use them as plates, saucers, cups etc. This  green revolution of is spearheaded by Keduolhoukho Dominic Chadi,  ,  son of Rheizetsolie Chadi and Dzuvichuu Chadi,  who has  also urged local residents to say  ‘no’ to plastic items and ‘yes’ to leaf-based products.  This noble and humble initiative is undertaken by the social worker’s NGO, Earth Friendly Generation (EFG).

Dominic 26, hails from Nerhema village but currently resides in Chiephobozou where his registered office is located. His NGO was formed on October 15, 2015 and it was later also registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860. He said that he started his organization or NGO  with a vision to strengthen and preserve the importance of mother nature.

The concept of using leaves to package food items is a common practice in Northeastern States and even in many Asian countries. The idea of using leaves for cups and as containers is however a refreshing concept.  In other Indian cities, leaves are also treated and used by street side vendors to serve fast food to customers. These leaf plates/bowls remain strong and durable for many months. 

Apart from helping locals earn a livelihood, Earth Friendly Generation (EFG) NGO formed by Keduolhoukho Dominic Chadi also aims to protect and save the environment.  Keduolhoukho said he decided to form Earth Friendly Generation (EFG) to emphasize continuous environmental protection by working together with people to create and promote a clean, safe place to live for future generations. 

Not only does Dominic’s  NGO work to bring back eco-friendly products and other packaging products to beat plastic pollution, but it is also encouraging local entrepreneurs to come up with different ideas to promote local eco-friendly products. He further stated that the products are hygienic, extremely healthy and reduce littering (the sight of ugly plastic wastes all around us). Most importantly, leaves are natural and they are easily biodegradable.  Infact, when they biodegrade they increase the fertility of the soil.

Chadi said he initially wanted to pursue a course in journalism upon graduation but had to eventually work in the field of environmental protection as he did not get admission to pursue a course in journalism. That was what led him to form his NGO called Earth Friendly Generation (EFG). After forming his NGO,  he also completed his Master’s in Social Work (MSW) from North East Institute Of Social Sciences & Research (NEISSR), Dimapur.

Dominic also spoke of a project called “A million hour” to replace one time plastic use with banana leaf and how it was started with just 7 workers and 13 volunteers.  ‘A Billion Hour’ is aimed at promoting local entrepreneurs as well as using available natural resources to minimise the use of plastic.

Dominic ‘s NGO provides cups, plates and bowls made of leaf, a skill which was taught to them by their parents, elders and some of which they had to modify s for better finishing and  to attract more customers.  

Chadi also said that, there are many kinds of banana leaf which they were not aware of and now they know which ones are good to make plates and cups and can last longer. The main kind of leaf that this NGO uses for its products are;  vector leaves, Musa indiana and Musa nagalandiana. He uses them for making plates, cups and even packaging because it is of good quality.  It is also interesting to note that Musa nagalandiana is named after Nagaland, where it was discovered and is a rare species.

Like every good thing has shortcomings, he stated few of many challenges his NGO is facing. He said that in the present scenario, of all the challenges they encounter as an organization,  the first and foremost is financial crisis as they do not get any fund or grant in aid from either the state or Central Government. 
There is also the shortage of manpower as there are less or no work sometime. The other challenges include; lack of people participation in promoting local products (eco-friendly products), collection of banana leaf from the jungle as they need to mobilize locals who are experts in collecting/choosing of leaf, and marketing. And since they cannot keep the leaf products for more than two weeks, they need to get a pre-order and only then during the winter season they would have to go to the dense forest to collect the leaf.
When asked how people reacted to their work, he said, “There is always a positive attitude as well as negative attitude; however the perception towards this initiative called “A Billion Hours” project has received positive response from government and various NGOs and CBOs. Therefore, we are happy to make leaf plates, cups and other eco-friendly packaging products. We are also trying to overcome the negative feedbacks.”
Chadi who had completed his masters of social work from North East Institute Of Social Science and Research (NEISSR) stated that they are very new and this kind of business is  not very common in his  area as everyone uses readymade and easy made items available all around .
He urged the present generation to use natural resources for income generation. However, at the same time, he urged people to preserve and protect natural resources by using them judiciously. He remarked,  “The mindset should be changed and we should take things according to our needs and not according to our wants. If we fail to preserve and protect our environment, our future will be at its edges and there will be nothing left for us to see the green world.”
He also stated that  media is one of the stepping stone for the local entrepreneurs to be promoted and the government’s responsibility  is to help the local entrepreneurs so that they don’t get discouraged and stand firm for their better future. 
In conclusion, besides making plates, cups and packaging materials, EFG has also collaborated with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in organising campaigns, creating awareness programmes and addressing issues of organic farming.
Vibeituonuo Kuotsu

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