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Schools Key to Develop Eco-Friendly & Safe World

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As the need to develop an eco-friendly world turns a serious affair, school children’s awareness can be vital. Influencing children at an impressionable age can actually be a game-changer. To instill a sense of care, it’s significant to build a habit of precaution for an environmentally sensitive society, writes Sandeep Datta of Elets News Network (ENN).

Schools Just visualise a world, 10 or 20 years from now, where we along with our children would struggle to lead a normal healthy life. It would be far more difficult than it already is. We would be striving to survive. There would be no one but ourselves to curse as contributors of the dangerously polluted surroundings.

Looking at the way the climate change is affecting seasonal change, something needs to be done. After all, it isn’t wise to let things deteriorate around us and be spectators to our own deaths due to steadily polluting environment. Schools hold the key to trigger a steady and widespread change.

There is need to be pro-active and do something which may start with – awareness and a collective will for a comprehensive change. Can awareness programmes and initiatives involving children help in the long run? Let’s delve into it and explore much more.

Being Eco-Friendly – Taking Baby Steps

It’s important to first agree to turn eco-friendly. Equally important is that acting in this direction should not remain limited to just turning off lights before leaving a room or segregating garbage for recycling.

The approach to eco-friendly world involves actual practices that influence how communities, businesses and individuals conduct themselves. Perhaps, there is a need to change the way we live.

Eco-friendly products promote green living that help in energy conservation and also prevent air, water and noise pollution. They prove to be a boon for the environment and also prevent human health from deterioration.

To encourage youngsters to engage with their environment, eco-school is an initiative that allows them to actively work for protecting it.

Environment-Friendly Programmes of Different Hues

Eco-Schools Programme

To encourage youngsters to engage with their environment, eco-school is an initiative that allows them to actively work for protecting it.

The Eco-Schools programme is a way for schools to embark on a meaningful path towards improving the environment in both the school and the local community. Besides, it also has a life-long positive impact on the lives of young people, their families, school, and local authorities.

Through this programme, young people experience a sense of achievement at being able to have a say in the environmental management policies of their schools, ultimately steering them towards certification and the prestige which comes with being awarded a Green Flag.

Starting off in the classroom, the initiative expands to the school and ultimately fosters change in the community at large. It is also about having a life-long positive impact on the lives of young people, their families, school staff and local authorities.

In Britain, various programmes like Energy and Greening the School-Run are worth inspiration.

Energy

The Carbon Detectives’ Kit allows schools to work out their carbon footprint and compare them to other schools. The Sustainable Learning programme encourages schools to make energy reductions of 10% on average and develop a better understanding of how energy and water is used within their buildings.

Greening the School Run

The Walk to School movement, run by the charity Living Streets, encourages children and parents to leave the car at home when it comes to the school run. Its annual walk-to-school month has inspired over two million primary school-aged children to take part in activities.

School Food

The Food for Life Partnership is a network of communities across England, committed to transforming food culture, one school at a time. The Better Nursery Food Now campaign, led by the Soil Association and Organix, calls on the government to put in place clear rules to ensure high quality food is served in all nurseries. It includes a Facebook page where dissatisfied parents and nursery workers can post their experiences.

How Some Indian Schools are Making the Difference?

Ahead of the festive seasons, various schools were approached to explore how do they alert and make students aware about developing an eco-friendly world? It was simply an eye-opener how much vital schools can prove to be.

School Initiatives at a Glance

According to Kanak Gupta, Vice President, Seth M R Jaipuria Schools, they have set up pollution control boards.

“We were one of the first schools in India to install an air quality monitor which helps to “Flag The Pollution” levels in the school on any given day, with a Red Flag hoisted where levels are above 200, and Amber Flag when between 200 and 60 and a Green Flag when the Air Quality in the school meets acceptable standards of 60 and below.”

Special Activities to Aware Students

Schools “Creating awareness is the first step. For instance, in collaboration with a citizen’s initiative, MyRightToBreathe we did something called VrikshaBandhan during Raksha Bandhan where students tied twigs to trees, taking a vow to protect them. Recently, we did Navra-tree where every class takes a vow to plant a tree for each of the nine days, and so on. We conduct regular workshops to educate students and teachers about the ill effects of pollution. We also engage our sweepers and all Grade 4 staff to attend regular workshops,” Gupta said.

“We even do workshops to teach parents how to segregate and compost their waste. We have separate waste bins for separate types of waste, conduct workshops with the school sweepers and cleaners to educate them as to how to go about waste segregation. We have tied-up with reliable waste collection agency for apt recycling of waste collected at school, encouraged parents to put an absolute stop on plastic tiffins, adds Gupta.

Manju Rana, Principal cum Director, Seth Anandram Jaipuria School, Vasundhara, Ghaziabad, says being an eco-friendly school Green Diwali echo reverberates in their entire campus and they also spread the word in the neighbourhood areas too.

“We provide an advisory / flyers reminding ways to celebrate safe and eco-friendly Diwali without crackers. Buy earthen lamps, use environment friendly products for home decoration, reuse the décor and gift wraps, use natural colours for rangoli decoration, use jute bags for shopping, follow Buy- One Give-One rule. Donate to the needy.”

“Children design various catchy and thought provoking mock advertisements are issued in public interest to celebrate Green Diwali “Students conduct mass awareness programmes and urge Resident Welfare Associations to hold community fireworks for brief period of 30 minutes on a single day.”

“We hold Eco-friendly Rangoli making competition, instilling in them the spirit of competitiveness along with environment sensitivity.”

“We always support and promote Eco Friendly celebration of all Indian festivals. Children make Rakhis using cloth, clay and other biodegradable materials. On the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi , students of Eco club of the school make Ganesha idol with biodegradable or recyclable materials. They spread awareness and urge people to make ritualistic immersions in buckets instead of immersing the idols in water bodies. During Holi, we make and use organic colours at home with the help of flower or plant extracts,” Rana added.

Sona Dhingra, Principal, Children’s Academy, Kandivali East, Mumbai says they have undertaken various initiatives while playing an important role for environment. According to the principal, Children’s Academy’s other initiatives include:

LED Lights: We have replaced tube lights with less power consuming LEDs. This has reduced power consumption by around 260 W per tube light. Undaunted by the financial hassles that we faced during the inception of this idea, the reduction in global warming as an outcome made us march ahead in this venture.

Proper Ventilation: Apart from having a sturdy infrastructure, we also have classrooms which are well illuminated with natural light. This has reduced the necessity of switching on lights during the day time. Also, ample ventilation has ensured that our class rooms remain cool even during summers. We have ensured that we reduce Green House Effect by having non-AC class rooms.

The Eco-Schools programme is a way for schools to embark on a meaningful path towards improving the environment in both the school and the local community

E-Circulars and E-Magazine

The school communicates with the parents via its school portal and e-circulars and SMS services. To save paper, we have an e-school magazine, uploaded on our school website.

Reuse of Plastic

“Our students have taken the initiative to demonstrate and mentor their fellow students on how to reuse plastic milk packets and transform them into utility items like baskets.”

Solar Panels

“We have installed a total of 97 panels, each having the capacity to produce 300 Watts of electricity. In totality, these panels can generate 29.1 KW D.C. The same is converted to A.C. and synchronised to the grid. As the frequency of the solar panel is higher than local grid power, it travels faster and can optimise the load on itself so that there is less power drawn from the non- solar electric sources. The residents in the vicinity of our school were inspired by our move and took steps to install such panels in their buildings as well.”

Anirban Bhattacharya, General Manager-School Operations, Seth M R Jaipuria Schools, says, “We are extremely aware of the hazardous environment problems and pains every citizen is going through. We encourage non-usage of plastics, use of natural colors, facilitate and boost clean up initiatives, educate them. For instance, we have Diwali celebrations without fireworks; we celebrated Rakhi with Vrikshabandhan. We also believe in decorating the surrounding neighbuorhood by natural means.”

According to Anna Correa, Principal, St Stanislaus High School, Mumbai, a number of initiatives have been undertaken towards the objective of building an eco-friendly world.

“The theme for this year is Care for Creation and the cover of the Calendar and many competitions carried out in the school like poster, elocution, debate and quiz have been around Caring for our common home – our environment.

“The school has two dustbins in every class and on corridors for dry and wet garbage. Children are advised about segregation. The wet garbage goes to a tumbler compost machine and the compost generated is used for gardening.

“E-waste collection is also done and special bins are placed for this purpose.Use of plastic bags and single use plastic bottles is expressly forbidden.

“Students participate in road and beach clean up activities. There is also a campaign with an NGO called ‘Phenk mat Stanislite’, where special Ecocommanders and Eco-captains have been appointed to prevent littering on the campus.

Regular workshops for students and parents have heightened awareness,” Correa added.

Conclusively saying, it’s high time we realised the dangers of being contributors to an ecologically dangerous world. While many schools have made a beginning in the right direction, there is a need to take the message into every household through schools and its students. Let’s make the difference together. Let’s build a safe and livable world to gift our children a better tomorrow.

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