This Novel Initiative by the Kottayam Municipality Helps the Needy Get Things They Can’t Afford

We normally throw out old things that are not being used once we replace them with new ones. However, there are many people who cannot afford new products – be it a television set or even clothes. On the other hand, people who can afford new things throw away their clothes, shoes, bags, steel containers, etc. once they become old, despite the fact that these can be mended easily. Other household products like TV, washing machine, fridge, gas stove and the like find their place in the nearest scrap shop. Wouldn’t it be a noble idea to give these items to people who want them but cannot afford to buy them?

Kottayam Municipality has started an initiative called ‘Swap Shop’, with an aim to help those in need get such household items free of cost. People who want to replace anything at their home with newer products can give the old ones to the shop, which will then be handed over to those who do not have these items.

The shop has been started as a part of the Haritha Keralam programme, one of the ambitious projects of the LDF government which was inaugurated on December 8. The programme focuses on waste management, water conservation and organic farming.

Six municipalities, 11 blocks and 1,140 wards of 71 gram panchayats in Kottayam have formally joined the programme. Municipalities have been deployed with the task of waste management.

Explaining more about the shop, P.R. Sona, Municipal Chairperson, Kottayam, said, “We have come up with the idea of a swap shop, keeping in mind two major points. One – it would be a noble cause to help people get some of the things they require that are considered as luxury for free. Second – in this way we also intend to reduce waste material thrown out from houses and are left on the roadside. If the items are reused, then dumping of such items can be stopped to an extent. Why throw something and add to the waste when it can be useful for someone else?”

She added that apart from waste management, the other aim of the project is to make household items like TV or fridge available to the poor who can’t afford them and therefore make them happy.

The shop that is functioning at the municipality’s Old Guest House would be open on all days including Sundays, when people can deposit unwanted items that are in a usable condition. The items collected each week are given to people who require them every Thursday.

Officials say that the shop has become popular in the municipality and the first lot was distributed last Thursday. As a starting point, people had deposited clothes that were given off to the poor and needy. They also added that more products like furniture, shoes, bags, clothes, etc. are being deposited on daily basis.

“Haritha Keralam has been conceived as a people’s participatory programme and therefore we have come up with such ideas wherein people can contribute to make their city stand out from the others. The shop is receiving clothes and electronic items that are mainly thrown out by people just because they buy new ones, even though these are working in perfect condition,” says Narayanan, who is in charge of the shop.

He added that they only accept things that can be used by people and not discarded items that are not in good shape.

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