To reduce the landfills, city-based eco-warrior Hafiz Khan is collecting empty cracker cans from the roadsides and recycling them into holders for plant samplings. “Last year, we collected around 20,000 cans from the city. This year, we approached a lot of apartments and all were willing to collect and give us outer shell/case of flower pots, vedis and rockets. We hope to collect 1 lakh empty cans from in and around the city in the coming days. Chennai Corporation has agreed to give us one unit of firecracker trash that is collected from Valsaravakkam,” says Hafiz Khan, a forest creator. He is doing this through his NGO Communitree.
He says that people don’t think about recycling the trash collected after Deepavali. “We aim to reduce the landfills with Deepavali waste and also instill the idea that waste is a waste only if it is wasted. If you think out of the box, you can come up with amazing solutions to manage waste. If nothing works out, you can give it to us and we transform them into holders for saplings. We plant saplings in these empty cans or give back the boxes after planting saplings inside them,” he adds.
Though most of the cans will be clean, Hafiz and the team are cleaning the empty boxes with cow dung water. “If there are any excess gun powders stick to the cans, cow dung water neutralises the toxic content. By 2021 July-August, we will be planting the saplings in various parts of the city. It is a beautiful task to upcycle the used cans. We wanted to be a role model and inspire people all over India – to be conscious of the trash they discard.”
The team is also planning to make a documentary of the entire process — how they collect empty boxes from the roads and apartments, cleaning them with cow dung water and planting different saplings in the boxes. “By watching a documentary, people will get a better understanding of how to convert the trash into treasure,” he remarks.