It was a workshop to get to know the three Rs better and how necessary they are in our lives.

“Once upon a time there was a piece of paper, it could bend, flex, and pretend to be an aeroplane if it wanted to be…” as the story was narrated, a four-year-old “volunteer” helped the story become more interesting as she acted out the story. But one day the piece of paper found itself in the garbage can. It was a sad little piece of paper, wrinkled and crushed. It found itself in the shredder, crushed and pounded. As the final ray of light flickered out, the crushed paper thought of all the dreams it had, for it had wanted to be “someone” in life, like a legal binding or an important pamphlet. But now it was too late.

Then suddenly there was a streak of light and the paper saw that it was bleached clean. And as it turned, it saw on its back, the mark “recycled” and the piece of paper was happy once again.

The children in Kids Central, Kotturpuram, aged two to ten, had the opportunity to take part in an environment conservation, an initiative by Courtyard by Marriot. With April being their Environment Awareness Month, different activities have been planned. And at Kids Central it was to educate the kids on the importance of the three R's – Reuse, Reduce and Recycle.

Ways to recreate

Following the story session, the children were given used milk and juice cartons and taught the concept “Wealth out of Waste”. One group drew a circle on the box and cut it out. The whole box was then covered in blue paper and pasted like a gift box. Identifying the area of the circle the kids had fun poking at it and cutting it out. The children drew tiny birds and leaves on the box. A loop of artificial greenery acted as a handle and hey presto a bird box was made.

Another group covered the box in pink paper leaving the top open. The over lapping paper was cut like hair strands, a face painted on the surface and the caption read: “Feed Me.” This could be used as a pencil holder or any holder for that matter or a bank.

The third group cut the cartons into neat strips and “wove” it into a table mat. To keep it neat they pasted the interwoven strands. It looked beautiful as the “warp” was the silver inside and the “woof” was made with the colourful outside of the carton.

The programme came to an end with the display and discussion of the working model of rainwater harvesting. A neat house had a shower fixed on top of it. As it was switched on, water gushed on the house and ran through the “drains” till the water went into the well.

“Look at the rain,” a teacher tried to explain while a student piped up “that's not rain, it's a shower.” “Let's pretend that it's rain,” quietly went on the teacher as the kids crowded around the model. It was “circle” time, and the children had to sit around in a circle for the day's discussion which was “Why do we need to save rainwater?”

Through the working model the kids had a clear idea that water if it is not ‘harvested” – taken through the pipes and drains into the deep well built for this very purpose, would go waste, by flowing away. But this water can be used for gardening, washing vessels and also clothes.

The team from Marriotts explained that in their hotel, a huge underground well was built so that rainwater was conserved and they used this to clean their floors, do their laundry, and do the dishes and to water plants. Treated water was used for flushing.

Interesting and interactive, the green awareness programme made a great impact on the kids as they understood that it could be started at home. That rainwater was for free and they had the power to conserve it was the message they carried home with them.

Some simple steps:

Use cloth bags for shopping

Segregate garbage into bio degradable and non bio degradable

Switch off lights when not required

Use the CFL lights

Make paper pens and pencil. Cover pen/pieces of

Pencil lead with papier mache, or wind strips of paper around till you can comfortably hold it.