College students do their bit for the environment by making compost out of garden waste.

Several colleges in the city have been working hard to do their bit for the environment. They have been collecting garden waste and making compost from it. The respective environment clubs, botany departments and microbiology departments of the colleges have been involved in the activities and every batch of students is taught the technique of vermi-composting.

“We started this project a few months ago. Earlier, the leaves used to just lie around. Now, the students collect them and put them in the compost yard. The plastic collected is given to the sweepers. We do not burn garbage and are trying to reduce waste,” said Nanda Haridas Shah, who coordinates project Hari Vanam at D.G. Vaishnav College, Arumbakkam.

Impressed with the response to their initiatives towards environment protection, the college management has started a park of medicinal plants. A bigger project called ‘Project Green,' to make the entire campus green, is also on. Through this project, students get the opportunity to know about the values of plants attached to planets, nakshatras and also the temples. Green Ambassadors are being given training in these areas during weekends. Accordingly, the students visit the neighbourhood and talk to the households about the need for keeping green.

Apart from aesthetic and academic value, the feeling that one must give something good to the society, will be introduced into the minds, neutralising the environmental adversities by growing plants and trees.

Most institutions involve the students in one way or the other. “Our students help in turning over the leaves, which help in retaining the wetness of the mix. We use the compost in our herbal garden,” said P.Sumithra, head of the Department of Microbiology, Dr.MGR Janaki College for Women, which has composting pits right in front of the college. “We have placed it here so that visitors can also take a look at what we do with our green waste,” she said.

Certificate course

Dr. G.Rani, principal of SDNB Vaishnav College, said the college offers a certificate course for students of other department and vermi-compost is a component of the course. “We have recently started an environ club and we have already placed coloured bins all over the campus. We are trying to teach the students not to throw popcorn covers and water sachets,” she said.

Dr. K.Pushkala, associate professor Department of Zoology, said the college started vermi-composting in 2004 and is still continuing. “Our students are from mofussil areas and they have gardens in their own backyards. They learn the techniques and practice at home. We also teach them mushroom cultivation.”

At Stella Maris College, every day around 80 kg of food waste from the hostel and 40 kg from the garden are used to make compost. “There are 450 students in our hostel. We have an environmental studies paper and hence all our students learn composting.”

For its part, the M.O.P. Vaishnav College has placed red and green bins and are educating their students to reduce the use of non-recyclable waste.

Vermi compost expert Sultan Ahmed Ismail said that more industries, educational institutions and residential complexes that have gardens and lawns must make compost from green waste. “It does not stink. To make compost, heat is essential and instead of diluted cow dung, garden soil and sour curd could also be mixed with water and used.”

“Before using food waste, the masala and oil have to be washed off. This can be done by putting the waste into perforated containers and spraying water. Equal amounts of food waste and garden waste must be used,” he added.

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Deepa H. RamakrishnanJune 28, 2012