"Stone Soup" is all about providing Waste Solution
November 2nd , 2019 | Smita Kulkarni
"Kasa Muktha Bellandur" volunteering experience
Hello I am Smita Kulkarni, Age: 42 yrs, mother of 2 children.I am an IT professional turned graphic designer based in Bangalore. I would segregate my waste and believed that I am doing my bit to solve the waste management issues in the city. In 2013, a citizen activist group called "Kasa Muktha Bellandur" was looking for someone to help them in making posters for a waste management educational exhibition. I volunteered and that changed my life. While doing research for the posters, I learnt so much about the issues that I cannot unlearn, even if I wish to. I learnt about how the children at landfill sites were suffering because of our waste, how the garbage burning on the roadside was spreading cancerous toxins in the lungs of innocent by-walkers, how the waste workers spent everyday sifting through other people waste, how cows, dogs and other animals/birds were injesting plastic because of our carelessness. This was too disturbing to not act on. I joined the team.
In 2015, Malini Parmar founded a startup called Stonesoup to start an initiative called "borrow-a-bag" to reduce the number of single-use plastic bags doled out by grocery stores everyday. I loved the idea and joined her for this campaign. We teamed up with Dr Shanthi of HSR Citizen Forum to spread the movement across the city. It snowballed into a citizen-led plastic ban across the city and eventually became the government order across Karnataka. We now have Bangalore Eco Team that is a city-wide volunteer group dedicated to successful partnership between officials and citizens to make plastic ban a success across the city.
We expanded Stonesoup to provide composting solutions and sustainable period care products. People do not often get what is the co-relation in our weird mix of products - composting solutions, bees wax wraps, cloth bags and feminine hygiene products. The relation, of course, is waste. We believe in the dream of zero-waste cities and each of these products contributes to making your homes zero-waste.
Most of our team members are women - women with school going children who are just as passionate about solving the waste problem. Our office timings are 9.30am to 3pm, so that most of us are back home to be with our children when they return from school. We have a Saathi program that aims at converting eco-warriors across the country into eco-entrepreneurs. We have 100+ saathis in 20+ towns/cities across India.
In the last year we developed our range of cloth sanitary pads by providing livelihoods to semi-skilled women tailoring teams. So far we have teams in Dharwad, Mandya and Dindigul. We hope to team up with organisations like Rotary, Pinkathon to spread the word on sustainable menstruation and set up cloth pad stitching centres in many districts across India.
Every step I take, has a positive impact
The lines between work, passion and fun are non-existent. I have taken sessions, spoken on TEDx platform, received award in a star-studded event in Mumbai from First Lady of Maharashtra, spoke on popular Radio channels, taken to streets with fellow activists, taught plastic ban songs to school children. I look forward to each day and sleep each night with the satisfaction that every poster I make, every session I take and every product I sell, has a huge and lasting impact on the landfill, on people's health and on people's livelihood.
The author of the story is “Smita Kulkarni, Co-founder, Stonesoup" and you can know more about her at https://stonesoup.in
InwasteR is only a platform to share WaStory and the views and experience are purely of the author.