Visakhapatnam students say no to brown paper covers on school books

Exciting steps are afoot as parents, teachers and students are taking steps to walk the talk and turn eco-friendly. As a new academic session begins, the consensus is that one should do away with brown paper and plastic covers on notebooks. Traditionally at the start of an academic year, thousands of laminated sheets of brown paper are used to cover notebooks and textbooks.

“If a school has 400 students and on an average each student uses 20 notebooks, it adds up to 8, 000 notebooks a year. Even if three sheets of brown paper are used per student, can you imagine how many sheets of brown paper are consumed? Notebooks are hardbound and even textbooks have sturdy covers. Do we really need to waste so much paper in wrapping them? It is a meaningless ritual,” declares Rajini Chitra, Academic Director of Pollocks Institution.

An eco-conscious approach
  • The environment conscious approach in schools has spread to other cities as well. In Chennai, too, this year a few schools have come forward to encourage parents to do away with the brown paper and plastic covers on notebooks.
  • Last year, the Delhi Government had directed all schools in the national Capital to restrict students from using plastic covers on their notebooks or books as a step to reduce plastic waste generation and safeguarding environment.

Rajini, who runs eight schools and one concept school (Pollocks Intelli), has started an initiative from this year to urge her students (5, 300 of them each year) to not wrap notebooks with brown paper and plastic.

Speaking of the reaction to this decision from parents she says some have welcomed it while others feel maintaining the books in good condition through the year may be tough without ‘protection’. “We gave them certain options like using old chart papers or muslin cloth as covers,” she says. She hopes by encouraging this trend there will be an increase in eco-consciousness. Pollocks Intelli school will also organise workshops for students in the coming week on DIY methods of using cloth as an alternative to paper covers.

A vicious cycle
  • The life cycle of paper is hazardous to the environment from beginning to end.
  • Trees that are cut down and turned intoheaps of paper, which when burned – release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
  • The pulp and paper industry worldwide is the fifth largest consumer of energy, accounting for four % of all the world’s energy use.
  • In the past 40 years alone, the consumption of paper globally has risen by 400% , with 35% of harvested trees being used for paper manufacture.

One green mom, Jyothirmayi Mukthineni, who has a 11-year-old, says she has been following this practice for the past two years. “Yes, the books wear out. But my daughter is learning to maintain them better,” she says. Sunita Kona, a teacher at the Navy Children School, admits that covering notebooks increases their life, but it is a “colossal waste” of paper and plastic. “The Oxford University textbooks and other private publications have very good binding; hence they do not really require covers,” she says.

Schools like Satya Sai Vidya Vihar, Visakha Valley and the more recent ones like Silver Oaks have also been advocating the practice of avoiding covers on notebooks. Silver Oaks also is a no-plastic zone and follows an environment-friendly stationary policy, where a set of pencils and erasers are given to students at the beginning of the year, and the children are expected to manage with only those. Responding to that challenge, Poorna Kraleti, a mother of two says, “My children found it difficult for the first year, but the following year, my younger one used only the stationery in her quota. This is a good way to make the child understand the value of resources.”

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 9:53:38 AM |

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