School Kids Volunteer for a Cleaner Environment

Our children are going to be most affected by our actions and their children by their actions. Therefore to break this cycle it is more imperative now than ever to sensitise the children of today about the environment and the effects of human activities on it.

Let us look at the world in 2050 when our children will be adults, here are some worrying facts;

  • The world population is expected to increase from to over 9 billion in 2050. A growing population is likely to increase pressures on the natural resources some of which supply energy and food.
  • Air pollution will overtake contaminated water and lack of sanitation as the prime cause of premature mortality across the globe, potentially rising to 3.6 million deaths per year—mostly in China and India
  • Plastic production is expected to almost quadruple by 2050. Despite the growing demand, just 5% of plastics are recycled effectively, while 40% end up in the landfill and a third in fragile ecosystems such as the world’s oceans.
  • The ocean is expected to contain one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish [by weight]
  • 40 million people will be at risk from rising sea levels
  • Human-caused global warming is expected to increase by three degrees Celsius

So basically the Earth in 2050 will be hot, crowded, polluted and overflowing with plastic, a scary place! Can we ACT on this?

Environmental scientists have identified that increasing isolation from nature is one of the five major causes of the environmental problems we face. Without an understanding of our utter dependence on nature for food, shelter, clean air, clean water, and many other natural resources and services, we become more likely to degrade our environment.

The ACT School program focuses on sustaining the environment and society, helps students to understand and to reverse such degradation and to contribute positively to the environment and thus to their own well-being.

The program aims to sensitise students but after sensitizing there is action as well. The students are taken through simple but powerful ideas on how they can contribute significantly to real problems.

The program has narrowed down on two important areas i.e waste management and plantation.

WASTE MANAGEMENT AND PLANTATION

Under this ACT School program, students are taken through classroom and practical sessions. As a part of the program, they are assigned a project related to waste management with effective segregation. The program also includes outdoor assignments and clean up and plantation drives.

Students learn that the most important factors in tackling the waste problem are:

  1. Reduction of wastage through conscious consumption
  2. Proper segregation of daily waste
  3. Composting of wet waste
  4. Channelising dry waste items on a regular basis to recyclers

To ensure that the students understand the issue and work towards a real solution, they are given a 30 day home project where they are required to segregate the daily household waste and monitor recyclable items.  The end objective is to ensure that the refuse waste handed out to the garbage collector reduces over a period of 30 days and more items are given for recycling.

“Improper waste segregation leading to overflowing landfills is a serious problem that we are facing not just in Mumbai but worldwide. Our objective of hosting the sessions in schools is to ensure that children who are our future leaders have a clear understanding of the issue and are given proper direction to tackle this problem. Even if some of the students are able to convert their homes towards zero waste in the long term we will consider our project successful” says Saurabh Gupta, Founder Earth5R.

“Apart from waste management, we educate students on the importance of green covers through plantations drive and clean up drives to give them a real understanding of the problems of pollution” added Saurabh.

The ACT School program has already rolled out in 2019 starting from Mumbai for high school students. The program will be taken nationally across schools for maximum impact. Our children will ACT for building a better world for themselves even if we don’t!

Reference sheet of waste items:

Waste itemType of wasteDetailsDisposal method
Fruits/ fruit peelsWetKitchen wasteCompost
VegetablesWetKitchen wasteCompost
Egg shellsWetKitchen wasteCompost
Leftover foodWetKitchen wasteCompost
FishWetKitchen wasteCompost
Meat/chicken bonesWetKitchen wasteCompost
Tea leavesWetKitchen wasteCompost
Coffee powderWetKitchen wasteCompost
FlowersWetKitchen wasteCompost
Plants & leavesWetKitchen wasteCompost
Coconut shellsWetKitchen wasteCompost
Sanitary napkinsRefuseSanitary wasteHand over to garbage collector
DiapersRefuseSanitary wasteHand over to garbage collector
EarbudsRefuseSanitary wasteHand over to garbage collector
Human hair and nailsRefuseSanitary wasteHand over to garbage collector
Sweeping dustRefuseSanitary wasteHand over to garbage collector
Used cottonRefuseSanitary wasteHand over to garbage collector
Soiled paper/ tissuesRefuseSanitary wasteHand over to garbage collector
Cigarette endsRefuseSanitary wasteHand over to garbage collector
Medicines & syrupsRefuseHazardous wasteHand over to garbage collector
SyringesRefuseHazardous wasteHand over to garbage collector
Sharp objectsRefuseHazardous wasteHand over to garbage collector
BladesRefuseHazardous wasteHand over to garbage collector
Paints and chemicalsRefuseHazardous wasteHand over to garbage collector
Toxic and flammable itemsRefuseHazardous wasteHand over to garbage collector
Light bulb/ tube lightRefuseHazardous wasteHand over to garbage collector
Broken glassRefuseHazardous wasteHand over to garbage collector
NewspaperDry recyclePaperHand over to recycler
Books, magazinesDry recyclePaperHand over to recycler
EnvelopesDry recyclePaperHand over to recycler
Letters/ paper bitsDry recyclePaperHand over to recycler
Cereal boxesDry recyclePaperHand over to recycler
Cartons & boxesDry recyclePaperHand over to recycler
Courier packagingDry recyclePaperHand over to recycler
Pizza boxesDry recyclePaperHand over to recycler
Bubble wrapDry recyclePlasticHand over to recycler
Plastic bagsDry recyclePlasticHand over to recycler
Plastic containersDry recyclePlasticHand over to recycler
Takeaway food boxesDry recyclePlasticHand over to recycler
ToysDry recyclePlasticHand over to recycler
Plastic bottlesDry recyclePlasticHand over to recycler
Bottle capsDry recyclePlasticHand over to recycler
Shampoo bottlesDry recyclePlasticHand over to recycler
Cans/ tinDry recycleMetalHand over to recycler
Aluminium foilDry recycleMetalHand over to recycler
Deodorant canDry recycleMetalHand over to recycler
Old utensilDry recycleMetalHand over to recycler
Pots/ pansDry recycleMetalHand over to recycler
BatteriesDry recycleElectronic wasteHand over to recycler
ChargerDry recycleElectronic wasteHand over to recycler
Wires/ cablesDry recycleElectronic wasteHand over to recycler
Mobile phonesDry recycleElectronic wasteHand over to recycler
LaptopDry recycleElectronic wasteHand over to recycler
ComputerDry recycleElectronic wasteHand over to recycler
Old clothesDry recycleClothing wasteHand over to recycler
Cloth ragDry recycleClothing wasteHand over to recycler
Glass bottlesDry recycleGlass wasteHand over to recycler
Glass jarsDry recycleGlass wasteHand over to recycler
LeatherDry recycleNatural materialHand over to recycler
SpongeDry recycleReusableHand over to recycler
RubberDry recycleReusableHand over to recycler
Mattress CoirDry recycleReusableHand over to recycler
Tetra PacksRefuseNon recyclableHand over to recycler
Snacks/ chip packsRefuseNon recyclableHand over to garbage collector
ThermocolRefuseNon recyclableHand over to recycler

-Written by Marya Lanewala, Volunteer and  Project Coordinator

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