Say ‘I will drop my garbage in the bin’ 10 times.
Now drop your garbage in the bin.
That is one of the many innovative signs that my college, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai has in place as its initiative to ‘Go Green’.
Going green does not necessarily mean building dams for hydroelectricity and harvesting solar energy and such large scale major shifts in our lifestyle. Of course, at the higher level, it should be done. However, Going Green also includes all the small changes that we can make in our everyday life that is a bit better than the other environmentally degrading ways that we use. For example, we could simply segregate our household waste into recyclable, biodegradable and non-biodegradable. We all know what we should do but we think just us doing it would not make a difference. This is what is taught in school and nurtured in college: that every choice that we make counts. Every decision affects life, if not immediately then certainly in the future. Environmental sustainability is very important and it is through these small efforts that the big sea-change will come about. Therefore, it is of vital importance that ‘Go Green’ ideas are stressed upon and implemented in school and college campuses.
In school campuses, the students are young and need help with the working model of a green campus. There are many ways that that can be put to work:
• Educate the students from the kindergarten level. If they are used to the entire system of tending to plants (even if they are in tiny pots in the classroom), they will tend to trees and respect them later on in life.
• Include a personal and an emotional touch to the project. For example, each child can be given a small sapling to take care of. After a month, they all can bring the potted plant to class and show around. It is amazing, even to adults when we see a plant slowly grow up, in front of our eyes, under our own care. They would love the plant and the message is sent across well.
• Promote the use of reusable water bottles made of steel or good plastic. This way, the demand for bottled water decreases.
• Ban polythene bags on campus. My school also used to charge a fine of Rs. 10 if found with a plastic bag. It is a very practical and efficient method.
• Waste-free lunch policy involves asking students to bring their food in reusable lunch boxes instead of throw away boxes. This reduces the waste of styrene and Styrofoam wastes.
• Parents should be advised to use the carpooling system from the same neighborhood. A no-idling area outside the school gate can also be demarcated where parents need to switch off their vehicle engines so as to not produce polluting exhaust while they wait for their child.
• Using old and waste items to make art and craft projects in primary schools is a great way to reuse waste while increasing its aesthetic value.
• Starting a community garden that involves all the students may be a great idea. For this, a small patch of land on the school ground can be planted with small shrubs and plants. Each student from every class can share duty with the others for watering the plants. This cycle may be supervised by the teacher. Not only does the school have a green patch, it is done by the students. Double bonus!
There are many more such ways to get the ‘go green’ ball rolling in school campuses. In college, an older and a bit more mature young people are at hand, which broadens the scope of green initiatives.
• The creative ones come up with innovative posters that click with the college crowd. Whatever is ‘cool’ is to be followed. If the ‘go green’ ideas are put forth in their ‘cool’ way, problem solved.
• Separate waste bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste. In addition, making bins for tetra packs is a good idea too.
• Debates, discussions, seminars and conferences on environmental issues are conventional methods. Adding street plays and participation helps too.
• Colleges can organize clean up drives on beaches, roads, etc. Malhar, an inter-college festival of St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai keeps ‘Chakachak-beach cleanup drive’ as a contesting event where students from other colleges participate in cleaning up the garbage on the beaches of Mumbai.
• A sculpture festival or contest can be organized where participants use the waste from the college bins to create junk-art or sculptures.
• Integrating information with participation is always more effective than both of them separately. A net with world’s garbage statistics can be put up with spaces for fixing in waste like bottles, cans, etc. The student reads the poster, is sensitized and at the same time he is also participating towards the better change via this technique.
• Hand dryers and towels in the restrooms can easily be done away with to cut electricity costs.
• Solar panels are feasible for large institutions as the energy caters to a large building space.
We can always come up with ideas that are although small and seemingly insignificant but can make a big positive difference if followed by the masses. Go on, do your bit for your home, it’s the only one we have.