New Delhi: “Please send an empty snack box or tiffin along with your children as we will not be serving refreshment in paper or plastic boxes”, read the communication sent by Linden Montessori School, Bengaluru, to parents for their upcoming Annual Day Function. Earlier this weekend, Linden Montessori, a pre-school in the city celebrated zero waste annual function with a theme of ‘Around The World’ in an eco-friendly and way, giving a cue to other schools. The aim was simply, ‘to help our planet breathe easy and reduce the waste burden on landfills’.
Talking about the green initiative, Stuti, Founder and Director of the school says,
We have only one Earth. We are recklessly using single-use plastic and paper tableware, cutlery, decorative items and other things. The dialogue around sustainable living has started and its time we make the right switch. Ours was an initiative in the same direction.
After organising waste free annual function for two times in a row, Linden Montessori has some lessons to share with other educational institutions wishing to walk the same path. Here is how the school managed zero waste annual function and the challenges it faced in its green journey:
1. Ditch Plastic Decoration
Thermocol and balloons play a major role in the process of decoration, but the fact is, they both are hazardous. Thermocol is manufactured from a petroleum-based plastic compound known as polystyrene and on burning it emits chloro fluro carbon (CFCs) which can cause respiratory problems. “Though children love playing with balloons, we didn’t use even single balloon in our decoration or entire function because they are made of plastic”, says Stuti.
The school opted for paper and cardboard based decoration. For instance, as part of the theme, the national flag of different countries were painted on chart paper and hung using colorful ribbons.
Hundreds and thousands of trees are cut to make paper and we don’t aim to waste it in our one time decoration. We have plans to reuse it in other cultural events, says Stuti.
2. Bring Your Own Cutlery
Usually, students are given refreshment packed in plastic or paper boxes. The food in the boxes also comes with plastic packaging. To evade this problem, the school took inspiration from the #BYOCSelfie challenge introduced by Rishita, one of the parents. Children were asked to bring empty tiffin along with them. Refreshment was directly served to students.
I’m glad no tetra packs were given to children because neither they are healthy nor plastic free. In fact, they have too much plastic – packaging, straw, and then another packaging for straw, says Rishita Sharma, one of the parents.
3. Going The Traditional Way
While tea was served in rented steel glasses, snacks were provided in biodegradable arecanut plates and water dispenser with reusable glasses was kept. To avoid the use of paper tissues, parents were requested to carry a handkerchief with them.
Parents were also requested to take #BYOCSelfie challenge, but not many accepted it whole heartedly. But the best part is, they were inspired and took home a message, says Rishita.
This is not the first time the school has taken a green step for a cleaner environment. In school, three bins have been put for recyclable, non-recyclable and food waste. Also, the school has done away with paper plates and cups, usually used in art and craft. Explaining the reason behind the same, Stuti says,
Paper plates and cups do make for an amazing craft, but they too have a plastic lining, hence, stopping us from utilising it.
Signing off with the challenges that came in the way and giving a swachh message, Stuti says,
It is not easy to convince people to carry their own cutlery to every event. When we are organising an event, it seems easy to simply buy, use and throw disposable cutlery as compared to rent cutlery and make sure we don’t run out of it. But we took it in our stride and managed to pull it off. Through this, even if one person gets inspired then it’s a chain effect.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.