As part of the Swachh Bharat Mission, the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) promotes the use of cloth bags as an alternative to plastic bags. As part of its efforts, a “Cloth Bag Challenge” was launched by the civic body for school children in the city.

Prime Minister Modi during his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ last Sunday hailed the efforts of the people of Visakhapatnam to promote cloth bags instead of plastic as part of the ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’. The first steps in GVMC’s outreach effort include helping students paint cloth and jute sacks with a competitive spirit. A large number of students at GVMC as well as other schools in the city make cloth bags from used clothes with the help of their parents.

The GVMC asked the students to prepare cloth bags either by using unused clothes, sheets, pillowcases, T-shirts or by taking a ready-made cloth bag on which they must make embroidery works or painting eco-friendly quotes. Since last week, a large number of children from many schools have been participating in the challenge and posting their videos online, tagging them on GVMC’s social media accounts. GVMC Commissioner Lakshmi Shah said, “The mission aims to raise awareness among the public and traders. We have already sent notices to supermarkets and shopping malls to refrain from using plastic bags. Alternatives such as cloth bags, jute bags and biodegradable bags are being promoted to replace single-use plastic.”

With already 5,000 students from 100 schools involved in sewing and designing cloth bags incorporating old clothes and unused material, the city commissioner added that the company intends to reach more people and make the campaign more intense. Nandini, the 9th standard student of Nehru Municipal High School, said that “plastic is harmful to the environment, it releases toxic materials into the atmosphere. It is not easily degradable, so it is better to replace the bags plastic by cloth bags made by students.

Pushpa Latha, an arts and crafts teacher at Nehru Municipal High School, said the students were taking part in the initiative with great zeal. “They’re taking over the clothes and creating new things. Not only are they sending messages to their families to use these bags, but they’re inspiring others to avoid plastic,” Latha said.

“We need to start raising awareness about banning plastic, its harmful side and its alternatives from school age. There are about 25,000 students in the city. If we could involve children in such a fight against plastic, their parents could also So these ideas could spread to about 25,000 families,” said Lakshmi Shah.(ANI)

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