Kochi: A grocery store in Kolencherry is showing the way to keep plastic out of our way. The store set up by Bittu John, an MTech-holder, encourages customers to bring their own containers and bottles for shopping and avoid plastics. Fifty such stores will also come up in different parts of the state under his guidance.
John, a Kothamangalam native, launched the initiative eight months ago after he was impressed with a ‘zero waste store’ during his visit to London.
Customers visiting his ‘7 to 9 Greenstore’ are encouraged to bring their own containers to buy items like cooking essentials, cleaning solutions or other commodities. They can also get paper bags, organic cotton bags or glass bottles from the store.
Most items sold are unpackaged, kept in tight bins, steel containers and bottles and provided without plastic covers.
“The customers are given a flat discount of two per cent if they bring their own containers. Those who buy in paper bags and glass bottles, provided to them under a refundable deposit scheme with Rs 50 to Rs 150 range, too can avail of the offer. The people backed the idea as they wanted a solution to the plastic menace and didn’t want it in their homes,” John, son of a wholesale grocery dealer, told DC.
Now nearly 250 customers frequent the shop daily even from far-off places like Ernakulam and Thodupuzha. “Around two decades back, we used to go to stores with bottles to get edible oil but now we get it packed in plastic covers or bottles. Ninety per cent of the plastics in houses come from grocery shops or supermarkets and I wanted a change in the system. In seven months, I helped the customers dispense with nearly three lakh single-use plastic covers,” he said.
However, John feels it’s not easy to start a similar venture as he himself had to invest nearly `45 lakh to set up the store with all infrastructure facilities. “I had to procure specially made bins and jars from countries such as Germany, China and the US.”
John is determined to take his campaign to the next level by helping entrepreneurs set up similar shops. “I’ve received over 600 enquiries already with many asking for technical help and how to source the commodities and infrastructure. I’m extending my help to establish 50 of them in the first phase,” he said.
However, he wants the government too to play its part by providing subsidies for such ventures....