IPL matches attract thousands of cricket fans to the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru. As the batsman and bowler and the teams compete and strive to give their best inside the cricket ground, the audience keeps on applauding and cheering their favorite players.
And while doing so, the colorful flags of RCB (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and other teams wave and add color to the audience arena.
But what happens to the flag after the nail-biting match ends and the audience leave for their home? The flag goes into the trash with food packets and bottles. These flags are made from good quality cloth but bite the dust with the rest of the trash.
Swabhiman Is Making A Difference
That was the usual scenario until last year. But this year Swabhiman, a non-governmental organization in Bengaluru took up the responsibility of recycling these flags into bags and giving them to the street vendors free of cost.
The flags are turned into durable, and sturdy cloth bags and can fetch a decent price for the sellers.
While talking to media, the founder of Swabhiman, Venkat Iyer said, “We work with underprivileged homemakers in the city, who we realized, had a lot of time on their hands when their husbands had gone off to work and children to school. Swabhiman was looking to empower them in simple ways to utilize this free time to increase their house income. So, we started distributing sewing machines to women. When Bengaluru imposed the plastic ban in 2016, we involved these women in stitching cloth bags to be given to the street vendors.”
Swabhiman is an NGO started by Venkat Iyer and his wife Vijaya Iyer in 2007. Over the last 12 years, they have undertaken numerous initiatives. The NGO has taken 30 women under their canopy and collect flex banners from mass events such as concerts and marathons and stitch them into bags.
Saahas Zero-Waste Enterprise Supporting Swabhiman
According to the 59-year-old Venkat Iyer, “This year, social worker Ramakanth suggested we should collect flags discarded in the IPL matches, and we gladly hopped on board. Saahas Zero-Waste enterprise, based in the city, has been given the responsibility to collect all the waste during the matches and we collaborated with them to segregate the flags from the rest. They hand over the flags to us which our skillful tailors turn into useful cloth bags.”
Chirag Arora who works in a private firm in Bengaluru is the sponsor of this initiative. Iyer charges Rs.8 to him per every stitched bag on a zero-profit basis. This is the amount charged by the women labors from the slum who stitch the bags.
Bags Are Given Free To Street Vendors
The NGO gives the bags free to the street vendors who can use these bags for handing over their items in place of polythene or paper bags. Venkat Iyer also said that the Bengaluru IPL team management has backed this initiative. The engineer who is a part of Iyer’s team has been testing single and double poly bags. They have already finished preparing and distributing a batch of 50 bags among a few vendors in Koramangala.
Another batch of 850 bags is expected soon. Iyer said, “The women take between 15 to 20 minutes to make one bag. We have stitched close to a thousand bags so far. The bags we have made are quite big and it takes one big flag to stitch one bag. But Chirag has requested us to make smaller bags now, so we are estimating that by the end of the next week, when another match is scheduled in the Chinnaswamy stadium, we would be able to stitch a total of 3000 bags.”
Kudos to Chirag and Iyer for thinking such an out of the box idea and recycling the IPL flags so that the trash is transformed into a thing of utility.