SKRAP- Eco-friendly solutions for the planet

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Highlights
The story dates back to 27 January 2016, a massive fire broke out in Deonar, one of the largest dumping grounds in Mumbai, spanning 326 acres. It took firefighters more than a week to contain the massive fire that created a dense layer of smog in the vicinity, making it almost impossible for people to breathe. Among the many people who were facing respiratory difficulties, there was Divya Ravichandran.

 

The journey to save our planet starts with one bamboo straw. Sounds Impossible? Stay with us. 

The story dates back to 27 January 2016, a massive fire broke out in Deonar, one of the largest dumping grounds in Mumbai, spanning 326 acres. It took firefighters more than a week to contain the massive fire that created a dense layer of smog in the vicinity, making it almost impossible for people to breathe. Among the many people who were facing respiratory difficulties, there was Divya Ravichandran.  Back then, Divya worked in private sector and had to stay indoors for days to shield herself from air pollution.

It was evident that the city required a more effective waste management strategy and something had to be done to encourage more people to adopt sustainable solutions.

Hence, Divya visited the landfill site, and the first-hand account was both an eye-opener and a turning point in her life. The sad state of waste management in the city then prompted Divya to begin taking responsibility for her waste by opting for waste segregation at the source. To do the same, Divya got a composter and began composting wet waste, which mainly included food waste. As far as dry waste such as paper, plastic covers, metal, glass was concerned, she would collect them separately and send them to the recyclers at the end of the month.

Gradually, by trial, error and observation, Divya managed to transfer zero waste from her residence to the landfill site. Once her home was converted into an almost zero-waste-to-landfill zone, Ms. Ravichandran says she realised that the conversion was quite simple, and she started helping friends and family do the same for their homes. At the same time, she also quit her job at Deloitte and was thinking about starting her own business. "It seemed to make sense to start something focused on efficient waste management after the Deonar fire" says Divya. This led to the birth of Skrap in 2017.

How are they bringing about a large scale impact?

They have partnered with offices and events such as marathons, music festivals and business conferences to support them on the zero-waste path, and their clients include Bacardi NH7 Weekender, SBI Green Marathon and Insider.in. At Skrap, they have a huge team of volunteers for activities, with each person in charge of something. They're spread across the venue and wear green jackets that make them recognizable and let the people around them know that there's a squad that's actively looking at waste management at the event.

In the case of large events, Skrap has an end-to-end waste management process that begins four days before the event, right from the moment the stage is set up. The process continues until the stage is dismantled and a comprehensive report about how much waste has been created and how it has been used is shared with the organisers. She says, "YouTube FanFest, for example, was a one-day thing, but the waste disposal process lasted seven days." There's very little you can do with the waste that is combined and not sorted at the source.

But the key to the Skrap process is clear messaging. "We don't use the term wet and dry waste because we feel that sometimes people don't know the difference," says Ravichandran. For events, though, to make it clear, there is a division between food and recyclable waste, and there are eye-level signage bins along with colour coding and bin liners. When the waste is transported to the sorting area at the end of the day, an additional team of waste pickers from one of the NGOs that Skrap has partnered up with conducts the second degree of segregation. Quite interesting, though, is the attempt made at the planning stage by the promoters of the event to reduce landfill waste at the source. Skrap advises on materials that can be used on stage, on banners and, in particular, on materials that can be used by food vendors at the gathering. "Plastic can be recyclable, but if it is tainted with food, it is not taken by the recyclers. What we are suggesting is that only biodegradable plates and cups be used and suggestions are given to food vendors where they can be purchased, "says Ms. Ravichandran.

How do they help offices in waste management?

For offices, Skrap's waste management strategy is more comprehensive and begins with a waste audit, where garbage bags are opened to see what amounts of waste are produced. Data is shared with workers about how much waste each of them produces, and Skrap also allows the organisation to set up a food processing plant and to collaborate with an NGO for recycling. 

What other interesting things are they up to?

Sustainable Furniture: 

Sustainability culture is not only limited to waste management but can also be experienced through the office's architectural and design elements. Skrap advises on making furniture out of up-cycled pinewood from reused shipping containers. 

Water-saving measures: 

No sustainable project is complete without taking action to protect our most valuable resource, water. In order to conserve water, Skrap advises creating water-conserving taps, water-free urinals and smart flush tanks in offices. These hacks help any office save thousands of litres of water per month.

Digital Workshops:

They conduct digital workshops for communities to help develop awareness and meaningful community engagement around sustainability and climate change.

Their online workshops focus on sustainability topics such as Zero Waste Living Workshop, How to produce Bioenzyme cleaners from citrus fruit peels,  How to compost your food scraps at home, How to cultivate microgreens, How to adopt sustainable menstruation, How to turn waste materials into usable items and more.

One of the things we have learned is using a bamboo straw. Bamboo Straws are not only safer for the environment, but they are also safer for us. In addition to being chemical-free, bamboo is often less likely to harbor harmful bacteria than single-use plastic. Yeah, and they are super easy to clean too!

Well, we are already on the path to sustainable living now. How about you?

 

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