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The girls have done it again, and this time their initiative of turning tailoring waste into pencil pouches has become the talk of the town

The real classroom, they say, is beyond the four walls -- an adage which the prestigious St.Teresa’s College in Ernakulam always believes in. This explains why the all-woman college has decided to set up ‘Changathi Chepp’, an initiative where tailoring waste is being recycled into pencil pouches and even bags. The leftover garbage from tailoring and garment shops are burnt or buried, causing huge environmental damage. That’s where the St Teresa’s initiative, in partnership with the Kerala government, assumes great significance in a city like Kochi. The idea of developing such an eco-friendly pouch from textile trash was first mooted by teacher/assistant professor, Dr.Nirmala Padmanabhan. It took off when the project got the nod from the state government’s Haritha Keralam Mission (HKM). Students from various departments were selected and divided into five teams -- offline marketing, online marketing, production, organizing, delivery and accounts team.

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Initially, a team visited schools, clubs and bookstores across the district, procuring orders in bulk. Students were also encouraged to visit tailoring units and gather materials on their own, making it a learning experience for them. Students also accompanied a HKM resource person to all municipalities of the district to encourage Kudumbashree women to stitch for students in their respective localities. The students are also planning to launch more eco-friendly items, but the first priority is to make the pouches as popular as possible. After deducting the price of zippers, the entire amount is given to students who stitched them. “Everybody gets a share of profit in proportion to the number of pouches they produce,” said Divya Nair, who is handling the accounts.

It’s a programme introduced in the college as part of a green initiative .It’s a great working experience where you can earn while being a student itself. It has been a huge learning experience.

-Jamie Joy, student @ St.Teresa's

Chengathi Cheppu is one of the sweetest issues our friends have taken up. I really appreciate the team for their constant efforts to get the product popularised among students. Earn while you learn method was implemented along with promoting eco-friendly products.

-Arpita Elizabeth Babu, student @ St.Teresa's

According to the team, about 2,200 pouches were sold since its launch in May, with each item being priced at Rs 25.

‘Changathi Chepp’ is now looking to launch products which can be alternative to plastic. “Our next initiative is to enhance education regarding plastic waste among the youth through a venture called PK3. Pk3 stands for plastic "kurakum kurakkanam kurachepattu". There is already a team working on it,” said Denila Davis, a third-year BCA-CT&ISM student.

The team is planning to take it online and is already in talks with a tech company in this regard.

How helpful has the initiative been for students? “Apart from social obligation, it is also a personality building activity for students. They learn how the market is and how products are being marketed to make it successful. And yes, more importantly, they also get a chance to earn during their holidays,” said Dr Nirmala Padmanabhan, rather proudly.

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Sounds good after reading this? Then walk into a shop and take a few pouches home. That is something you can do for these students and Mother Nature.

Available: At selected stores across Kochi and Mulanthuruthy panchayath, YMCAs, Rotary Club, H&C Kadavanthra and other outlets.

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