Mumbai: A dice made from waste paper, a unique board game with a cause. Move over Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly, make way for ‘Take Me Home’ board game. Roll the dice on the board, take the steps as per the number on the dice and pick a card. If the card chosen has dry waste as his/her category then trash including paper, plastic and so on will be collected by the player in his/her kitty and at the end of the game all the players will showcase their respective waste collected. This is one of the board games that Upcycle Co has developed integrating the concept of waste management. The Mumbai-based organisation that has been upcycling waste products into home décor items for the last seven years, is now on a mission to make people, especially children, aware about the garbage crisis in a fun and an interesting way by designing board games and puzzles.
Talking about the motive behind the quirky learning tools for educating children, Pooja Sawant of Upcycle Co says,
Selling upcycled products benefit only those who purchase it and we wanted to send a message that would help in bringing a behavioral change towards handling waste. Children are the best carriers of any message and because they are young their minds can be moulded. Once they learn and understand the concept of managing their own waste, they can bring a huge difference in our dumping patterns in future.
How The Idea Of Board Games Was Born
Founder of the company, Amishi Parasrampuria is a member of Global Shapers, an initiative of World Economic Forum (WEF). Global Shapers Community is a network of young people driving dialogue, action and change on the WEF Agenda.
It was in the beginning of 2018 when Amishi visited a school and conducted an awareness workshop on waste management through the WEF. Seeing the kids adapt fast to the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) techniques of reusing scrap items and their eagerness to learn more inspired Amishi to come up with such activities.
Thus, was born the Upcycler’s Lab project. A team of education experts, curriculum developers, teachers, product designers and parents developed the Do-It-Yourself activity box that includes puzzles and board games.
The unique concept is also a step taken to prevent the young generation from spending too much of their free time on phones, tablets and watching TV.
Only a decade earlier the presence of phones and digital platform was miniscule. In absence of social media, children, including myself, have grown-up on board games. The games are not only fun but teach important life lessons like having a team and competitive spirit. Today, children are easily distracted by phones and through board games we want to lessen this and help them learn lessons on protecting the environment, says Pooja.
How The DIY Activity Box Works
The organisation has developed five games based on five different themes that range from waste segregation, cleaning polluted water bodies to creating environment-friendly planet. One can purchase the games online on their website and a few e-commerce websites as well. The organisation supplies them across India and the world.
The board games are designed for children in the age group between 5 and 9. Each of the boxes have one manual on designing a product from waste materials and board games that can be played by multiple people. This way children can not only learn about different waste management practices but also implement the same.
For example, in ‘The Environment Box Mini’, different raw materials, that are usually discarded, are kept. A manual is also there from where a child can follow the steps and create a human powered butterfly. The box also contains a ‘Garbage Grab’ game that helps a child learn how to segregate waste.
School Children Benefit From Games To Teach Waste Management
To reach out to maximum children with their games, the eight-member Upcycle Co team started conducting workshops in school as soon as the games were developed. Since February this year, 15 workshops have been conducted across schools of Mumbai. In the workshops, the team members make children produce useful items from waste materials.
The DIY technique will help children in the long run. Once they get accustomed to DIY, they will be able to reuse any scrap items and create something beautiful out of it. A practical and theoretical knowledge is all that is needed, and we are here to provide the same. Besides, the children can go home and inform their parents on waste management who in turn can implement the same in their daily lives, says Pooja.
To make sure their games are creating a lasting impact on children, the team monitors every feedback post the workshops or after selling their games online seriously. Many parents have come forward and thanked the team for helping their child work towards an environmental cause.
“The concept is very unique. My 9-year-old daughter has already started becoming more sensitive to environment protection. She has also started making us all segregate our trash at home and reusing where possible,” says Pallavi, one of the parents who purchased the game.
“Love the fun activities for my 7-year-old. I am very glad to have found something that can pull him away from the TV and phone,” says Monica, another parent who invested in these board games.
Seeing the response from schools, children and parents, the team has already ventured into a game specially designed for children as young as 3-year-old. The game, which is in its designing stage, will come out in the next couple of months. The team is planning to conduct more such workshops in schools and even try holding these sessions in corporate set ups.
Meanwhile, the Upcycle Co team is continuing its original venture of upcycling vinyl records, VCR tapes and CDs into quirky and useful lifestyle products. Through upcycling, the team has so far upcycled 1,000 kilos of non-recyclable waste and prevented 1,170 kilos of carbon emissions in the process.
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