TERI’s Training Session for Teachers of Environmental Science at Don Bosco, Matunga

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a teacher?

Images of strict teachers standing in front of a classroom full of students, reading out from a text book, or writing something on the board or doing something unbelievably drab is what most of us would have imagined. This was not to be the case, however, at the training session that was held by TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) for teachers in the AV Room of the Don Bosco Provincial House, at Matunga on 25th June, 2011. The program was attended by 27 teachers from 8 schools all over Mumbai, plus one teacher who had come all the way from Lonavla. And if you saw the excitement that the teachers had written all over their faces throughout, it was only a telling sign of the good time they were having.

The session was conducted by Saltanat Kazi and Pallavi Barua and saw the explanation of some of the most innovative techniques teachers could use in order to teach their students about the environment, and individual and group responsibility towards it, while still completing their curricular topics. The presentations that were made by the speakers were excellent as could be seen from the smiles on most teachers’ faces. A session that depended heavily on interaction, group and individual activity, and sharing of so many ideas, it was really heartening to see the teaching fraternity, going that extra mile so that future generations would do the same in the future. That too while inculcating a true interest and love for the natural world all around.

With fun activities and a lot of interactive sessions that the session covered, students are up for a big treat when it comes to enjoyable learning with the help of awesome charts, lots of outdoor activity and the subject might soon become their favorite, if not already …

Chipping Away!

Chips! Ahh the wonderful taste of those spicy salty treats at 4.00 p.m. on a rainy evening! And how well they go with a little hot sauce, especially when I’m curled up watching a movie or chatting with a friend…

And what pretty shiny packaging!

Amidst all the running around to launch Green Homes and all the other stuff that happens over the course of a normal day, there’s no comfort food like my favourite pack of chips and bar(s) of chocolate. And so, I’ve realized, ‘going green’ will not be easy, even for the GreenLine team. Because with chips comes packaging, and with packaging comes a whole lot of problematic waste.

The average bag of potato chips is made of several layers, great for keeping the chips crunchy but not so great for the environment. The suspects are:

—A transparent film known as Surlyn, on which the brand name and cover pictures are printed

—A plastic layer made of stuff called Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP)

—A layer of plastic known as Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), which is a sealant

—Metallized BOPP, which gives the inside of the bag that shiny silver look

Now, while BOPP alone is recyclable, the combination of these various layers forms a non-recyclable material that will bio-degrade only after, well, nobody knows, but the estimate is 500 to 1000 years or more. You really don’t want to wait that long (my raddiwalla, for one, refused to even look at my collection of chip packets—kuch nahin ho sakta, kachre mein fek do, he told me).

So what are the options for snack lovers like me?

We could insist, as activists in the US have done, on environment-friendly packaging. SunChips, in fact, has acknowledged these demands and has invented a compostable bag for potato chips. But in India, this may take a while (a loooooooong while).

So it seems that the best way out, for now, is to just eat less of them! My first commitment to the Green Homes Movement, therefore, is to stop eating all potato chips, snacks and other treats that come in those non-recyclable, non-degradable packages.

And to do the earth, and my waistline, a favour.