I am glad I met Anu Gummaraju on the blogosphere. A genuinely warm lady who blogs over at scatter the batter and A fleeting Glimpse. Her blogs being one of the reasons for my admiration, another is her initiative in Banglore – An initiative called Second to None. (I had the privilege of doing one of the initial posts for the blog :). India has very few flea markets worth mention. More about the initiative and the flea market in Anu’s own words 🙂
Armchair enviornment-activism is all very good, but there comes a time in all our lives, I presume, when it just isn’t enough. We may be thinking constantly of how much plastic the world is generating and consuming and discarding in dangerous ways, we see signs to keep our city clean and think yes! I will do it, we know we have to conserve water and electricity and do a little bit in that direction in our homes. But is that all?
This became a big, big question for me around mid last year. It wasn’t enough. Could there be some way of first, practicing and then nudging the change on a broader scale? Prodded by this, I was looking for avenues in Bangalore by which reuse and recycling could be promoted.There were a few fora for giving away unused goods, but they were voluntary and not very wide spread. Craig’s list was just too anonymous and scam-ridden too, at times. There was no physical space for such activity, apart from the really old Bangalore markets which are very congested today!
Flea markets have always been a favourite concept of mine, and the idea of a local market in Bangalore, which could serve as a promoter of recycling and conservation and at the same time, provide a fun atmosphere for people to congregate and exchange ideas and learn about going green, suddenly appealed big time.
Speaking to friends and fellow passionate green-people, Reena Chengappa and Shilpa Kamath, about the idea, their enthusiasm and willingness to be a part of this movement sealed it. And Second to None was kicked off in June 2011.
We started first with an online group (an online flea market of sorts), on Facebook, to provide a platform for people in the city to interact and exchange reuse ideas and to buy and sell used goods online. A group with people who either knew each other or were added by friends seemed to be a reliable platform. The online group took off, with members selling anything from curtains to post and pans, to furniture, and exchanging reuse ideas. At the same time, we were also planning the first physical flea market, and scouting for an ideal location, a space which would support and nurture such an initiative and Jaaga (which means Space in Kannada) lent itself brilliantly to the cause. Read about Jaaga here (http://www.jaaga.in/).
With Jaaga booked for July of 2011, we were all set to kick off the flea market experiment over two days of a weekend. The only publicity we had at the this time was the Facebook group network and two local news dailies who figured this was new enough in Bangalore to be talked about. And what a fun weekend that was! The two days of the market came quite abuzz with activity, where like minded folk came together to buy and sell used goods from their homes, gardens, and more. We had resourceful members well versed in waste management, composting at home, effort-free drip gardening, and so on talking to visitors and helping them start similar ventures on their own. We had sellers exhibiting papier mache lamps, paper bead jewellery, recycled paper products, knick knacks from homes, decor, books, movies and more. And everyone wanted more.
So the flea markets have become a regular event now, we had one more market in Nov 2011, and the 3rd market is happening in Feb 2012. Between markets, the Facebook group has grown to 1260+ members and everyone is sharing and talking about how we can make simple changes in our daily lives, which can cumulatively make a big impact.
The idea of a local market, which happens regularly, is what I think appeals to people and encourages thinking and participation. It has provided a fillip for people to come participate and be a very physical part of the reuse concept, making us believe that local groups, events and happenings is the way to go to spread the word and get people involved. And the involvement here isn’t just with the facilitators (us and Jaaga). It is everyone who comes in to sell or buy.
The sellers make the space what it is, it is they who can make an event exciting and spread the word. When each one of them gives away, sells or makes new things out of old stuff, they are sending out a message. A message that says old does not mean useless, that we can use objects for more than their perceived shelf lives, that the more we reuse the less garbage we burden the earth with. Such a place is also a great place for bargains.
Let us face it, everyone is aspirational and there will always be people who want to own the next best thing, even in plastic, if they have not had it before. And what better than to get it at a good price? So the market has seen some barely used and vintage stuff going at incredible prices, which makes both buyer and seller happy.
Second to None began with a core principal of consuming less and reusing more, and making healthy choices for ourselves and for the planet. But we did not start with a blueprint, we have grown and learnt and accommodated new ideas along the way. We support home kitchens making organic food, and NGOs who empower people with training to earn a lving. Their products get exhibited and sold at the markets.
What is most exciting for us is that people from across the cHide allountry have joined the group and have started similar ventures in their own cities, citing Second to None as their inspiration. We are so happy about that! There is Reduse in Hyderabad, by Ipshita Roychowdhury and Rashmi, The Best and The Rest in Ahmedabad by Saurabh Pacheriwala and Anushree Poddar (https://www.facebook.com/groups/225422360867287/), BombayB by Joanna Lobo and Yoshita Sengupta (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BombayB/).
As we set up the 3rd market in Feb 2012, we are seeing so much enthusiasm and sincerity in people who really want to make an effort in reusing and recycling. Everything under the sun that has a use and a purpose is being sold online and at the markets today, and here are just some of the repurpose ideas shared by the group:
Painting, decorating used bulbs as decor items or plant hangers.
Bags from denim pants.
Fashioning anything from bangle stands to soft boards with salvaged wood pieces.
Runners, table cloths and more from wasted pieces of fabric from tailors.
Candle holders with used bulbs.
Waste toilet seats refashioned into mirror frames, pieces of art.
Etching and art on used wine bottles.
Jewellery and accessories with used buttons.
Old photographs, prints from magazines into wall art.
Decoupage old boxes and containers with used newspaper, other prints.
Bags, pouches and more made from tetra pack paper, jute rice bags, etc.
Side tables with cable spools.
The list is quite long and growing every day! Check into the FB page or blog to stay updated on all the cool ideas that are out there!
Thank you Sudha, for asking me to write in A Green Crusader @ Work. Many of your posts on the environment and green choices are inspirational!
Thank you Anu…people like you give me hope and will to continue what I do 🙂