DUBAI // A mother’s idea to turn unwanted T-shirts into bags is helping to inspire a generation of young people to be more aware of the environment.
Each year UAE residents use millions of plastic bags but many have little thought to the environmental damage that is causing to the country.
For Renuka Krishnan, eco-school parents coordinator at Gems World Academy, it was an problem that could be solved with a little creative thinking.
Mrs Krishnan, who has two sons who attend the school, came up with the idea of turning T-shirts into bags a year ago.
“Although there are shops that offer reusable bags very few customers opt to get them and I think the cost plays a factor in that,” she said. “Trying to convince people to bring their shopping own bags is a big challenge.”
“The good ones always found a new home but the stained, old T-shirts were the hardest to discard,” she said. “Some of them got recycled into cleaning cloths while others were sewed, by me, into T-shirt bags.
“I tried using them to replace the plastic bags that stored fresh produce in the refrigerator. They worked really well for me and since the last three years, I have been using T-shirt bags.”
In the past two weeks she has received about 40 T-shirts which have been turned into bags.
“It takes about 15 minutes to sew T-shirts into bags and we teach pupils at the school how to do it. The aim is that it rubs off on their parents and then into the wider community.”
Tanisha Mehrotra, 10, an American Grade six pupil at the school has been closely involved in the initiative.
The scheme has had a positive impact on students as well as parents, she said.
“It’s really important that we try to reduce our dependency on plastic bags because not only do they get sent to landfills but they also litter the environment and pose a risk to animals.”
“I have a small one in my handbag and it comes in handy for groceries,” she said. “It’s been very easy to use and has come in handy when I’ve been out and about.”
Reusing and recycling unwanted T-shirts is an ingeniously simple solution to reducing waste, she said.
“It’s as much about trying to change people’s lifestyles as it is about getting them to be more environmentally aware,” said Mrs Mehrotra.