What policies schools, colleges and corporates can adopt to tackle plastic trash?
Shivangi: I am all in favour of strict implementation of rules within educational and corporate premises. I think if we put two types of boxes to contain junk—disposable and non-disposable— it will be easier to segregate the waste. Simultaneously, kids across different grades will become more cognizant of the non-biodegradable waste that goes a long way to increase toxin levels of the planet.
Ketan: Our school has teamed up with environmentalist and marathoner Ripu Daman Bevli. We had the opportunity to participate in various cleaning drives for a litter free India.
What are your thoughts on the plastic cleaning drives single-handedly initiated by Ripu Daman Bevli?
S: Even though Ripu Daman is yet to create the buzz in media, his cleaning drives are helpful and practical. The initiatives might be small—at zone or state level, nonetheless have potential to yield positive results. We have seen from close quarters, the good work that is being done by Ripu. In my opinion, what he is doing for the upcoming generation is extremely sanguine. For instance, we are jogging and simultaneously picking up the trash strewn on the roads. So, we are striving towards a healthy body and a toxin-free environment to thrive in.
Students’ inventions can be also installed across cities. There will be no dearth of ideas once we set the ball rolling and schools should take the first step towards it
Are we practically doing enough to combat plastic pollution?
S: Hardly. I guess, students should be made more involved into practical works. So far, students are simply being preached through textbooks. I believe schools should implement field visits to generate responsibility about plastic pollution. Besides theoretical learning, students should be allowed visits to landfills and waste management plants in India. It would impart first-hand knowledge about how waste is processed and treated.
The gulf between textbook summaries and practical knowledge should be bridged. India is lagging in creating waste management plans and making future generation literate about the monstrosity of plastic waste. Looking at the data, we understand that progress in waste management is slow compared to the burgeoning population of India.
How was Hayde Heritage Academy proceeded in dealing with plastic waste?
S: Hayde students from all classes are instructed to make eco bricks. Basically, we filled bottles with plastic waste to the brim. These bottles have high retention capacity and never break down. So, the heap of non-biodegradable plastic bottles stuffed with trash are then used as building materials replacing concrete bricks. In Hayde, eco bricks are used for making benches, activity equipment and toys for kids. It has been a roaring success so far!
How should metropolitan cities put a stop to plastic production without harming the economy?
K: We need to take small strides towards finding alternatives to plastic-made products. Garbage bins should be uniformly stationed in cities to make sure the plastic is treated properly and not disposed in drains, on roads and water bodies. I think, government is not doing enough and in our country, pollution-cleaning drives are pretty short-lived. So, definitely genuine awareness is lacking.
S: Schools, corporates and government organizations should be united to promote awareness at the grassroots level. With campaigns and cleaning drives, we can lower the number of people being casual about plastic pollution.
We need to take small strides towards finding alternatives to plastic-made products.
As far as plastic pollution is concerned, what kind of changes do you plan on seeing in school curriculum?
K: Like we have music and sports, education on pollution should be a valid subject. If we make learning experimental and show students positive results, the strategy can gain traction. A competitive spirit should be infused in schools to come up with better and feasible ways to reduce, process and recycle waste.
S: In every stream, students possess the mettle to show a creative flair for battling pollution. Last year, Hayde students created a dustbin which would open automatically when stuffed with trash. So, evidently with encouragement students can produce brilliant ideas and smarter inventions to go easy on the planet. Students’ inventions can be also installed across cities. There will be no dearth of ideas once we set the ball rolling and schools should take the first step towards it.
A competitive spirit should be infused in schools to come up with better and feasible ways to reduce, process and recycle waste.