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The Body Shop reduces plastic waste through its community trade programme in Bengaluru

The initiative not only addresses the issue of plastic waste but also various socioeconomic woes.

The day begins early — often before sunrise — for forty-something Annamma who works as a waste picker in Bengaluru, India. After preparing breakfast, she heads out even before her children wake up for school, returning in the late afternoon to segregate the collection of the day and just in time to cook and clean for the family. Some days, she walks a few miles to the nearest collection centre to sell the scrap. This has been a typical day for her for decades, as it probably has been for the rest of Bengaluru’s community of waste pickers, 50% of whom are women.

While it is fairly common to see waste pickers in the bustling city, their lives and work are, ironically, cloaked by invisibility. Perhaps this stems from that out-of-sight-out-of-mind view and treatment of waste everywhere in the world.

From left: Indira, Annamma, Parveen, Vijaya Lakshmi, Alamelu and Monsiha

A discussion on waste management would be incomplete without involving plastic in the discussion — a material that has developed a bad reputation in recent times. Synthetic and mass-produced, it is the antithesis to the sustainable approach that our world desperately needs.

But global community trade manager at The Body Shop, Lee Mann, believes that “not using plastic is not the answer to tackling the plastic crisis; it is about using plastic responsibly”. Mismanagement is, after all, the main reason behind the deluge of plastic — once regarded as the most versatile of packaging materials, it now fills already overflowing landfills and litters the oceans.

With this in mind, the newest addition to The Body Shop’s list of community trade  suppliers sees its return to India where its first CT product, a Footsie Roller, was produced in 1986 by Teddy Exports. Today, there are 31 suppliers in 23 countries and 95% of its formulations contain at least one CT ingredient.

Read further at Option: The Edge.

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