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August 30, 2019 05:30 pm | Updated 05:30 pm IST – Thiruvananthapuram
Juices packed in reusable bottles at Green Habito Juicery
By now, entrepreneur Allen Dipu is used to customers asking him if they could take home the shapely bottles that he serves milkshakes in at his outlet, Kuppi.
Kuppi sells milkshakes in reusable glass bottles
Kuppi (which means glass bottle in Malayalam), located along Gowreesapattom-Pottakuzhy road, has become a brand in itself and the bottles, which come with seasonal themes, are virtually collectibles. In addition, Kuppi uses only biodegradable paper straws, which Allen imports and distributes to a few restaurants in the city.
Paper straws at Kuppi
Allen is one of the many entrepreneurs in the city promoting sustainable products to eschew single-use plastics. Several restaurants, juice outlets and hotels are shifting to disposable and eco-friendly alternatives such as paper straws, wooden cutlery, areca plates and containers and glass bottles to curb the use of plastics.
The result of trashing plastics was evident when Nabeel AS, a partner of Le Cafe at Ambalathinkara near Kazhakuttam, began work on his new juice joint. “While cleaning and landscaping the building premises, we unearthed loads of used plastic straws. The soil, for some reason, had become black in colour. The straws were dumped by a bakery that used to function at the spot earlier. That convinced us that we had to stay away from plastic straws,” he says, adding that Corporation officials too advised them to use paper straws while granting a licence for their venture. “Although metal straws were an option, it is difficult to clean and so paper straws were the only alternative,” he explains.
A board at MonQo on ways to do away with plastic
Outlets such as Green Habito Juicery and MonQo are among those that follow the green protocol. While Green Habito serves cold-pressed juices and smoothies in glass bottles and uses wooden spoons, at MonQo near Technopark, waiters sport T-shirts with the slogan ‘Say no to plastic’ even as a signboard explains how one can avoid plastics.
“We target the millennial crowd and it is important to drive home the message that they all can contribute towards a cause. Also, we, as a business enterprise, has a responsibility towards society and Nature. Our shakes come in recyclable glass bottles, which can serve several purposes in your kitchen. And there are no plastic spoons for takeaways from our place,” says Dileep Nair, co-founder of MonQo.
Sunil Sukumaran, owner of Stone Age, avers that although customers do ask for plastic straws, he does not oblige them. “Disposal of plastic straws was a huge challenge earlier and that’s why we switched over to its paper counterpart. Now, there are vendors in Chala who stock them in large numbers. We are also looking at alternatives for plastic cups in which we pack juices and shakes,” he says.
Momo wrap served in areca plates by Burger Band
Besides paper straws and wooden cutlery, areca plates have also found favour in the market. Burger Band, a food truck, is one of the ventures following the trend. “We source them from Coimbatore. However, if there is a lull in supply during the rainy season, we use ceramic plates,” says Arun Dhanpal, partner of Burger Band.
Banana leaves, earthen plates and bowls, glass bottles and steel glasses are in vogue at many restaurants. “Eating food on banana leaves evokes the feel of a traditional Kerala meal for many customers,” says Sukil Ram of Poomaram, which serves biriyani in bamboo containers that are washable and reusable.
Areca containers from Greenovation Eco Products
Cashing in on the demand for paper straws and biodegradable cutlery are many vendors because there aren’t all that many manufacturing units in the State. Meera Babu S of Greenovation Eco Products says she sources paper straws and wooden cutlery from North India. “While Madison Street and Sijis Pizza Street buy our straws, Ambrosia also sources wooden forks and spoons. I will soon be supplying straws to restaurants in Kowdiar and Kazhakuttam and have entered into a tie-up with a pizza shop for takeaway containers made of areca leaves,” says Meera, a hotel management graduate. Several small and big restaurants and juice shops have evinced interest in the straws she purchases from manufacturers in Gujarat, says Athira G, another vendor.
However, the vendors point out that it will take some time for them to find a steady market in the city because of the prices. The production cost of paper straws, which comes in lenghts of 6 mm, 8 mm and 10 mm, is deemed high, with the price ranging from 60 paise to ₹1.40 per piece as compared to plastic straws that cost only 20 paise apiece. Sandeep R of Vingreen, which sells paper straws and wooden cutlery, says: “We have been getting enquiries, but their enthusiasm wanes the moment they hear about the rates.” The quality of the straws too have come under the scanner.
- Green Habito Juicery stocks seed pens at its outlets near Technopark and Palayam. Athira G, who supplies the pens, says they are made by differently-abled people. “We have distributed 5,000 pens so far through our outlets,” says Sujith KJ, co-founder of the joint.
Vendors and shop owners also observe that denizens have to get used to the concept of using paper straws and cutlery. “We need a law to this effect. Roadside tender coconut vendors and small-scale shops use plastic straws in large numbers. They can’t afford paper straws. However, the silver lining is that a small change is happening and more establishments are coming forward to say no to plastic,” says Athira.
Meanwhile, the city Corporation has been holding awareness campaigns to do away with plastic straws. “Although we haven’t brought in a blanket ban on plastic straws, we run ‘Straws on demand’ campaign through which we discourage its use. There has been a positive response from most of the outlets,” says Anoop Roy, a Corporation health inspector. And, now, with the Central Government proposing to ban six single-use plastic items from October 2, a far-reaching change may be on the cards.
food and dining (general) / plastic pollution / The Hindu MetroPlus
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