Here, environmental studies are taught differently

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Milk, juices or any other beverages, sold in Tetra Pak cartons are quiet a common thing nowadays. We all use them and throw the cartons in the dustbin. But did you know that Tetra Pak cartons are one of the major sources of environmental pollution today? It is unlikely to degrade due to the materials it is made up of – paper, aluminum and various plastics? If not recycled, they are likely to add to our already overburdened dumping grounds.

Stancy Estibiero, a science teacher in Mary Immaculate Girl’s High School, Kalina, Maharashtra, decided to do something about it. “I always wanted to do something which will sensitise our students towards the need of nurturing the Earth, give them a practical idea that will make a difference to our surroundings.”

She introduced her students to an organisation, RUR Greenlife (Are You Reducing Reusing Recycling) who through presentations, demonstrations and street plays, educated the children about the benefits of recycling. The children also visited the recycling plant at Palghar where they were explained the nuances of the recycling process. This had the desired effect and within first three months, the school collected more than 9,000 cartons for recycling. Now the school collects thousands of cartons every month. These are then gathered by an organization, Sahakari Bhandar and sent for recycling at the Palghar plant.

“We have received very good response from everyone here. Our teachers, students, everyone is enthusiastic about the project,” said Sister Jessy, principal.

It has been three years since the school began educating children. So far, it has contributed more than 30,000 cartons for recycling. Empty cartons are first cut open, flattened and then washed before depositing in the Tetra bins

“The success of the project at the school is mainly because it did not restrict it to a mere single day event. The school tried to imbibe it in its programme and took it to many levels. The commitment was huge from their side,” said Monisha Narke, Founder & CEO, RUR Greenlife.

In order to encourage students, the products manufactured from the cartons are gifted to school from time to time. The school has already received five benches (the benches are kept at different floors of the school), a table, several notebooks and pads. “Unlike wood, the furniture produced from Tetra Pak don’t get affected by water, termites, etc. In fact, it can completely replace wood furniture, thus saving trees,” said Estibiero.

The project is no longer restricted to school itself with many of its former students taking it up in their colleges as well.

We are sure this is one practical lesson that will stay with the school’s students forever.

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