Class IX student Afsha Ali can’t wait for her half-yearly exams to get over so that she can stitch some cloth bags. Jaya Gupta of Class VIII is already on it in-between exams. They both have a deadline — August 13. So do their classmates.
The students of Seth Soorajmull Jalan Balika Vidyalaya — many of them first-generation learners — are set to celebrate Independence Day week differently this year.
Students from Classes VI to X are stitching bags made with their old clothes and plan to distribute them, free, to shopkeepers and customers in markets near their school on Chittaranjan Avenue. Their aim is to make the people around them more conscious about the environment.
The girls had taken the initiative well before the Centre’s ban on single-use plastic to control pollution in July.
“I had started stitching bags with my old clothes, uniforms and bedsheets way back in 2019 when I was in VII. I had stitched more than 10 pieces but could not distribute then because the pandemic had taken over,” said Kanak Dinodia, now in Class X.
“My cupboard is full of over 200 cloth bags that were stitched by our students before and during the pandemic. They did the project as part of their work education classes. Our girls are a conscious lot and wanted a plastic-free neighbourhood just like their school from before the government’s ban,” said principal Nupur Banerjee.
Some bags were brought out from the cartons, where they were packed carefully, and distributed to shops near the school on the occasion of Earth Day in April.
As new bags are replenishing the old stock, the students plan to go to nearby Manicktala and College Street and carry out their distribution. Most have stopped using plastic themselves. “I plan to stitch some for my neighbours too,” said Afsha
Like Afsha, all the girls in the school have been trying to avoid waste and build consciousness among others. Their aim is to build a greener neighbourhood wherever they go. “I have been telling people around me to do away with plastic. These small steps will help to save our Earth,” said Jaya.