UseMeAgain is a campaign to encourage the reuse of cloth bags to replace plastic carry bags. This campaign was initiated by eCoexist in 2010 - the last time the Maharashtra government promised to implement a ban on plastic bags. For the past seven years eCoexist has been trying to establish a sustainable supply chain of reusable alternatives. This year, once again, the government is making a similar promise and we have brought together a number of citizens to discuss this promise and what it could mean for our city of Pune. In the month of November UseMeAgain volunteers participated in and organised two awareness raising events.

12 Nov : Kalyani Nagar Zero Waste event 
Residents of Kalyani nagar Pune organised a Zero Waste event to which nearly 100 representatives of societies were invited to discuss how to make this neighbourhood free of waste. Although the focus was on waste collection and recycling eCoexist had the opportunity to present the possibility of replacing plastic bags with cloth bags. Special bags were made for the event and distributed free of charge as part of the campaign.

A very lively discussion ensued about various aspects of consumer behaviour and waste management. Among the dignitaries who attended the function the local corporator and the MLA Mr Mullick were also present. Residents raised the issue of the plastic bag ban with them and they promised to follow it up. We also had the opportunity to connect with the head of the Kalyani nagar Retailers Association and spoke to him about the feasibility of stopping all plastic bags distribution in the area through retail stores.

Poonam Eco vision was also present at the event with their cloth bags. 
18 Nov: Pune Running Beyond Myself (PRBM) Marathon event 
Pune Running Beyond Myself (PRBM) is a marathon which has been organised for several years and has nearly 15000 participants. This year we had the opportunity to participate in their event on the day prior to the marathon when participants came to collect their kits for the event. 

UseMeAgain volunteers Madhavi Kolte, Chaitanya and Smitha and Sanjeev Naik were the key organisers for our presence at the event. We were also able to rope in twenty students from Vishwakarma Institute of Management to do the outreach. 

Content and activities for the event included very creative tools such as games, slideshows, and selfies. Through these the volunteers were able to approach and start a discussion with the marathon participants. Participants were asked to fill out a survey which worked as a tool both to gauge their level of awareness and to educate them.

The games designed by Chaitanya for the event included 
1. A dart game which involved aiming darts at a plastic bag
2. A kicking game which symbolised kicking the plastic bag habit
3. A game which asked people to differentiate between materials and pointed out that non woven was in fact also plastic
4. A game which asked people to open a knotted plastic bag with one hand. It contained food in it and highlighted the issue stray animals faced while accessing foods thrown away in knotted plastic bags. 
At the stall given to us several alternatives to plastic bags were displayed and groups who have been making an effort to work on this issue were given a chance to speak about their initiatives. Among those that displayed their products  were  eCoexist, Poonam Ecovision and the Sus Road Initiative. Nita Ganguly also brought along a childrens book on the subject of plastic bag pollution.
With full cooperation from the organisers of the marathon, students were facilitated at the end of the day for their efforts. 
Survey to gauge levels of awareness
A ten question survey that was created for the awareness event received more than 500 responses - and the results of the survey are very revealing about the awareness levels in Pune. It indicated that there is already a high level of awareness about the polluting impacts of plastic bags and also a willingness to consider alternatives.
We would like to continue to circulate this survey online to keep building this data and understand how perceptions are changing. We request you to forward this link to your network and invite them to fill in the survey and participate in our efforts. 

Please forward this  newsletter to friends and family so that they can fill out the clicking on the button below.

Fill in our online survey on Plastic Bags
Newspaper articles on plastic bag ban
As the campaign gains momentum, word has gone out to the press regarding our efforts and an article appeared in the Times of India on the 17 Nov 2017. The main point being made was that to enable and assist a ban, we need to have a steady supply chain of alternatives in place, which we believe is very possible to achieve. However, the article could have been more encouraging. 

The role of the media in portraying the feasibility of such a change has a huge impact on the way people perceive it. It is important that we have support and buy in from the media to help communicate a positive message. At any rate, to engage the public in a discussion around this issue, the media plays a big role. 
Read the Times of India article here
To know more about the UseMeAgain campaign and its activities click on the links below ...
Notes from first citizens meeting
Notes from second citizens meeting
Alternatives to plastic bags in Pune
The UseMeAgain campaign abroad
The UseMeAgain website
Join the campaign