An internal motivation – The Hindu

Posted: December 28, 2019 at 10:44 am


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It is a rather singular story of how someone finds the motivation to follow sustainable practices, from within. Shantha Mohan runs a stationery shop in West K.K. Nagar since 24 June 2010, and the hallmark of the business is that it had avoided giving plastic bags to customers, from day one.

Those were days when there was little external impetus to avoid the use of single-use plastic bags. In contrast, today a ban on use of single-use plastic items is in place in Tamil Nadu.

Shantha, a resident of Balaji Nagar in Alwarthirunagar, would insist that customers bring their own bags, and she was well aware of the consequences of what would appear to some customers as intransigence.

Regardless of the amount of products someone has purchased, I do not compromise on my principle. At the time when I established this business, I had decided I would stick to my stand even it it would cause some customers to stop patronising the shop, says Shantha Mohan.

Shantha takes a keen interest in civic issues that concern Balaji Nagar where she moved in June 2018. Even before she became the treasurer of Balaji Nagar Residents Welfare Association in June 2019, she had been waging civic battles in the neighbourhood.

Our neighbourhood has seven streets and Sixth Street was lacking a name board for the past 15 years. We realised the seriousness of the issue only when there was an undue delay in the arrival of an ambulance when one of our neighbours had to be rushed to the hospital. The ambulance driver had difficulty in locating our street as there was no name board. I took up this issue for nearly six months with the Greater Chennai Corporation, and finally succeeded in getting a name board installed in March 2019, says Shantha.

She made arrangements with the Corporation to have the neighbourhood fumigated every Thursday. Further, Shantha ensured that all the rusted and fragile electricity poles in the neighbourhood were replaced with new ones.

Impressed with my work, the residents welfare association offered me the post of a secretary. But I turned it down, as I expected the work to be challenging and instead accepted the offer of a treasurers post, says 55-year-old Shantha.

However, in addition to financial management, she earmarks time for attending to cleanliness-related issues in the neighbourhood.

For the past three months, she has been roping in children in the neighbourhood to create awareness about responsible means of waste disposal and the necessity of waste segregation.

Our Association is striving to achieve 100 per cent compliance in terms of waste segregation. There is still a lot of work to be done, which includes creating more awareness about the issue so that those who dont practise source-segregation start doing so. Our Association run an awareness campaign with the support of children. Earlier, our colony had three bins and they would be packed with garbage and overflowing, most of the time. Therefore, the Association sought the intervention of the Greater Chennai Corporation and got the bins removed and started a door-to-door collection system in August 2018. Now, the challenge is about handing over segregated waste to conservancy workers. Therefore, I accompany the conservancy workers. Because when they insist on segregation at an errant house, they are treated with scorn. Hence, I make it a point to accompany the workers to each house that they go to for waste collection hoping that my presence will persuade the residents to abide by the practice. Further, I supervise the workers when they sweep the streets, says Shantha.

It may be noted that Shantha turned her back on a corporate career when she resigned as a human resource professional from a garment manufacturer company in 2011 after 17 years of experience.

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An internal motivation - The Hindu

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December 28th, 2019 at 10:44 am

Posted in Motivation