Shoppers are seen here with cloth bags while buying grocery supplies from a shop in Mopungchuket village, Mokokchung. The village has banned single use plastic bags in the village and is promoting the use of cloth and paper bags as alternatives. (Morung Photo)
Morung Express News
Mopungchuket | September 13
As Nagaland ups its ante in the fight against plastic pollution with the state government leading from the front, here is a village in Mokokchung district that has successfully tackled the menace of plastic pollution offering a lesson or two for the rest of Nagaland to learn from.
Mopungchuket village, located 18 kilometers off Mokokchung town, first embarked on its journey to fight plastic pollution way back in the year 2013. Six years later, the village Putu Menden, the traditional supreme authority in the village, decreed ban on single use plastic bags in the village effective from the month of May, 2019. Four months later, the village also banned all forms of single use plastic items in the village.
Taking a closer look on the success story of Mopungchuket village in their fight against plastic pollution, it is evident that the village’s strength lies in active community participation as well as sensitization and awareness among all sections of the villagers, close coordination among the various groups and mass organizations in the village, and strong advocacy groups and leadership.
While the first discourse on banning of single use plastic bags was initiated by the Mopungchuket Community Tourism Committee in 2013, the students’ union of Mopungchuket (MALT) kept the momentum going.
The Greensight Project, which is a five-year scenic enhancement and environmental aesthetics program of MALT, was launched in 2016 with the objective of making the village plastic-free as one of its myriad goals. In 2017, the Youth Department of the Mopungchuket Baptist Church observed its 100 years’ celebration and made the goal of making the village plastic-free as its primary centenary resolution.
The promotion of paper bags and cloth bags as alternatives to plastic bags has also become a part of the campaign. The Youth Department of the village’s Church initiated a poster campaign promoting cloth and paper bags. They also sat with the shop owners in the village a number of times to arrive at a consensus decision.
Accordingly, a couple of households were engaged to make grocery paper bags from whom the shop owners would buy them to be used in place of plastic bags. Concurrently, a “Bring your own bag” campaign was also initiated in the village encouraging the villagers to carry their own cloth bags while shopping. The Women Wing of the Mopungchuket Village Development Board complemented this campaign by sewing and distributing a cloth bag each to every household in the village to encourage saying no to plastic bags.
In August, the village council and MALT jointly banned the use of all disposable plastic items in all the shops in the village as well as packaging and selling of vegetables and other food items in single use plastic bags.
They also banned dumping of plastic wastes and other non-biodegradable wastes in the village and use of disposable plastic items and packaged water bottles during mass events like weddings, public meetings and funerals. They also banned carrying of single use plastic bags to the rice fields or while foraging the woods for wild edible produces. Bringing packaged water bottles less than 1 liter to the village from other places was also prohibited.