This summer, Plan A collaborated with Sagar Mitra. This India-based organisation is single-handedly developing a method to take plastic waste by storm, recycle it, and get money instead of water waste. Seeing the formidable success of this organisation (140,000 children in two Indian states, tonnes of plastics diverted from the sea to recyclers, a growth rate to make an international corporation jealous…), we had to go and ask one of the participating schools’ principals in Pune, Maharashtra. One thing is sure, there is no shortage of work for Sagar Mitra, and no shortage of good reason to help this project grow. This is your last week to give to this wonderful project. They need help so that they can help us back. But let school principal Geetanjali Bodhankar tell you why it makes sense.
In the academic year 2012-2013, we began our first year of implementing the Sagar Mitra Abhiyaan. We accepted this program because it makes them develop an environmentally sensitive scientific spirit, it shows them that daily personal action is a must – as a duty to Mother Earth and it teaches them the experience of teamwork.
Develop an environmentally sensitive scientific spirit
- We are convinced that we are building a national as well as international character within the students through which they are removing the following two ‘garbage thoughts’ from their minds: “a solution is not possible” and “community garbage crisis is not my problem”.
- As a result, they now think “A solution to the community garbage crisis is possible.” and “it is my problem and I am already acting individually and as a team – and my actions are powerful and effective and creating a people’s movement which is global.
- The project gave them a sense of global achievement because every 5 kg of clean waste plastic the children collect saves 1 km2 of ocean or 1 km2 of farmland.
Daily personal action is a must – as a duty to Mother Earth
- Children no longer litter on the school premises with plastic. The primary school students also recollect and throw small pieces of waste plastic into the Sagar Mitra Bin.
- Sagar Mitra shows that personal action is imperative. Each one of the children is responsible for a part of the problem and a part of the solution, so all must take their personal responsibility.
- The children are supported by their parents and the parents are proud of their children’s achievements and we teachers are now convinced that the Sagar Mitra Abhiyaan Project must be adopted by every school in village, city, district, state, national levels and in every country on our planet, untill 1.2 billion children are reached by 2025.
The experience of teamwork
- When there is funfair, gathering, send-off party or any crowd-level activity, the teachers and students keep all plastic waste aside in the Sagar Mitra bin.
- The Project gave them a sense of their individual and team strength as they saw the original 10 schools they were a part of becoming 156 schools in Pune alone. 42 schools in Jalgaon. 10 in Wai, 5 in Kota, Rajasthan.
This article was written by Geetanjali Bodhankar, Principal, MES Bal Shikshan Mandir School, partner of the Sagar Mitra programme. She was a math and science teacher for 27 years before becoming the principal of Bal Shikshan Mandir School. She has worked on numerous projects with students to teach conservation, climate action and sustainable living. She has won Best Teacher of the Year award 3 times and has shared her method with other teachers in New York and back in India. Thanks to her, generations of young students and teachers have integrated sustainable practices to their teaching, regardless of the class taught.