Chandigarh schools’ ‘Climategiri’ shines despite pandemic

Students and teachers in Chandigarh and its surrounds are ensuring their “zero percent waste generator” project at home and school is not left behind despite restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. At least 10 schools, both private and government institutions in the tri-city of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali, are managing organic, plastic and electronic waste scientifically, in collaboration with the Union Territory’s Environment Department and a four-year-old start-up.

St. Stephen’s, a leading city-based school has been at the forefront of the “zero percent waste generator” initiative for over two years now. “Our school became a zero percent waste generator in 2019, but it in early 2020, after an event called ‘climategiri’, under which the Chandigarh administration announced that all Fridays are to be observed as ‘single use plastic-free Fridays’, there had been no looking back. Teachers and other associates created a work group called ‘Climategiri,’ with members from around 100 schools of the tri-city working for the environment,” Seema Gupta, head of environment wing at St. Stephen’s told The Hindu.

“At our school, we segregate and hand over plastic, including wrappers, polythene, single-use plastic containers, and electronic waste items, to Paraheight Tech, a start-up working in waste management and recycling. Students also get plastic items and electronic waste from home. They are rewarded when they deposit a certain amount of plastic waste. In return for the plastic received, the company supplies us with recycled plastic items such as dustbins, and solar energy-based products. All the biodegradable waste generated on campus is composted and vermi-composted. It’s students’ participation that has made the campaign a success,” Ms. Gupta said.

Ansh Maria, a student of Class X at St. Stephen’s, said he had been participating in ecological activities since he was in Class VI. “Before our school closed following the COVID-19 outbreak, I collected and deposited plastic items from my house regularly. I was even rewarded an LED bulb made from recycled plastic. In the last two months, I have been depositing plastic waste at the school gate. COVID-19 can’t let dampen my spirit for environment conservation,” he said.

Jatinderpal Kundra of the Paraheight Tech confirmed that substantial plastic collection continued despite the closure of schools as “students contributed a lot by bringing plastic from their homes”. “We use recycled plastic to make LED lights, solar mobile phone chargers, dustbins, and pipes for hydroponic planting. We offer the students all these products as a reward for collecting plastic. We distribute recycled bins to the schools that are associated with us in climate change campaigning,” said Mr. Kundra. He said around ten schools have been focusing and working on achieving the target of being ‘zero percent waste generator’.

“During the COVID period as the schools remain closed, we started a new mechanism to collect plastic. We installed collection box alongwith weighing machine outside the main gate of schools and mounted cameras. The students don’t need to touch anything, they only have to keep the plastic on the weighing machine and drop it in the box. All the details are being captured by the camera with help of special software. For past over three months students have been coming and depositing plastic items whenever it’s convenient for them. As students don’t have to touch anything, apprehension of parents surrounding contagious COVID-19 has also been at bay,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 3:43:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/chandigarh-schools-climategiri-shines-despite-pandemic/article33627022.ece

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