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Green Business – Pakistan

An effort to get Pakistanis to make Earth-friendly changes in their daily lives is reducing the use of plastic bags. The “Green Business” project facilitates cloth bag production among marginalized women in two cities, giving them work while tackling the problem of plastic waste.

Fast facts:

  • 97 members
  • 15 women have started green businesses
  • Reducing use of one plastic bag prevents emission of 1 kilogram of carbon dioxide equivalent

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The problem

Pakistan faces a multitude of environmental problems, including pollution from solid waste. This is linked to citizens’ routine behaviors and their attitudes towards society,  their homes and workplaces and the natural environment. In addition to environmental problems, a great majority of women in Pakistan are underemployed. This is due, among other factors, to discrimination and cultural expectations for women to stay in the home.

The solution

The “Green Business” project is providing stay-at-home women with the basic tools to manufacture cloth bags as an alternative to plastic bags. Women in the outskirts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi who already know how to sew and have sewing machines were provided with cloth and instructed how to produce the bags. Citizens are then urged to use the cloth bags instead of getting a new plastic bag whenever they purchase something.

Helping the planet

Plastic bags present a serious disposal problem: It takes centuries for them to break down in nature, burning them releases poisonous chemicals and plastic trash in oceans harms numerous marine species. They end up littering cities that lack proper waste management systems. Since plastic bags are made from petroleum, they also fuel extraction of fossil resources. Reusable cloth bags, in contrast, prevent oil extraction, preserve natural resources, prevent further climate change, and address cities’ litter problems.

Helping people

The women who have started small-scale manufacturing of cloth bags at home have gained a new way to make money. For some women, this is their only source of income, as their husbands do not allow them to leave the house. As people switch to using cloth instead of plastic bags, they will also enjoy cleaner cities.

Spillover effect

The cloth bag business scheme is part of a greater environmental campaign called “Ain Amal”. This public awareness campaign encourages average Pakistanis to help solve environmental problems by taking simple steps like wasting less water, putting litter in its proper place and supporting greener home and work spaces. Promoting cloth bags gives the campaign momentum toward its goal of changing mindsets and mentalities to think in a more earth-friendly way.

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