Eco-Friendly Ganesha: Taking Home the Message of Green Celebrations

25th August 2011

What do you get when you have more than 200 children playing in the mud? Let’s rephrase that: What do you have when there are more than two hundred school boys playing with mud? Plenty of dirty uniforms, heap loads of muck and playtime that sees no end: these are probably the first images that would pop into anyone’s head. 

However, what would have greeted you today at St. Dominic Savio’s High School, Andheri, would be a refreshing surprise! The elements were 200 plus children and clay for each child, but the results were magnificent: more than 200 clay idols of Ganesha! Most of these were on par with the idols one sees lining the fronts of shops and stalls!

Throughout the 2-hour workshop on Eco-Friendly Ganesha—conducted by the Young Environmentalists Programme Trust—all the students, at their boisterous and creative best, could be seen toiling away at moulding their little idols. The students came from three schools: St. Dominic Savio and Holy Family High Schools from Andheri, and Don Bosco High School from Borivali.

Irrespective of age, all of the children were equally interested in making the best Ganpati idol they could. For most of the students, this was a first-time experience, and even for the organizers and volunteers, the eagerness with which the children worked was impressive. As one of the organizers stated, ‘I did not think they would make such amazing idols. I thought they would just make really simple ones, like one ball of clay atop the other’. How wrong that turned out to be!

Not only were the idols made of biodegradable natural clay, most of the students also used natural decorations on their Ganpatis. These included pulses, lentils, rice, leaves and flour. What struck us was that those who did use of non-biodegradable decorations said that they would remove them before immersing the idol. One of the students aptly summed up the mood at the workshop, ststing that the children had realised that we should give back to Mother Earth what we take from her.  While all the Ganapatis were special for each of the students, the competition saw Ajay Singh’s (Holy Family, Andheri) idol winning the first prize for his excellent craftsmanship, attention to detail and creativity.

The event, the first of its kind for the GreenLine team, was a lovely learning experience. We thank Fr. Crispino for the premises and permissions, all the teachers and students who participated in the workshop, and the resource persons from the Young Environmentalists Programme Trust for a memorable session.

Bursting the Bubble, Cutting the Crap at SIES College

18th August 2011

Our team has often reflected on which groups are most likely to effectively work on issues of environment protection and environmental advocacy. Interactions with schools and neighbourhood groups have convinced us that it is young people--particularly college students--who are most likely to be leaders in this field. 

So, when we were put in touch with the Ecosophy Association of SIES College of Arts, Commerce and Science (Sion West), we were eager to help them set up their environmental programme. Today, we facilitated the Ecosophy Association's inaugural session, and were happy to see the students' enthusiasm to address environmental and civic issues. 

After the principal, Dr. Harsha Mehta, inaugurated the session and encouraged the students to 'connect' with their environment, the GreenLine team, with Mr. Ajay Damle (a volunteer and past student of the college), made a brief presentation on the Cut the Crap Campaign, a programme that the college will be implementing during the academic year. This was followed by the screening of a thought-provoking clip from the documentary 'Home'. 

The highlight of the event, however, was the discussion with the resource persons for the day--Mr. Rishi Aggarwal from the Mangroves Society of India and the Mumbai Environmental Social Network; Ms. Kalpana Andhare from Stree Mukti Sanghatna; and Ms. Monisha Narke from R u R (Are You Recycling?). Each of the panelists provided excellent insights into the ways of bringing about environment-friendly lifestyle changes, and encouraged the students to become responsible consumers and proactive citizens. 

The session ended with the students expressing their interest in making their college and neighbourhood a greener locality. What impressed us most was the students' willingness to implement this initiative not merely as volunteers, but as environmental leaders. We wish the Ecosophy Association, the students and the college the very best!

Starting Young—St. Theresa’s High School, Bandra

12th August 2011

Common sense and conviction are the foundations of caring for the environment—this is what we learned from our session at St. Theresa’s High School, Bandra. Since many of the Nature Club members are very young students from the 5th and 6th standards, we were not too sure whether ideas like ‘environment’, ‘conservation’ and ‘responsibility’ would make sense to them

But we were in for a surprise! The children responded to the session with the simple idea that since the Earth is our home, we depend on it and we must take care of it. They insisted that none of them want to merely complain about the state of the environment; rather, they want to do something to improve it.

The students stressed the fact that besides problems that need to be solved, the environment also comprises many assets that should be improved and protected. This led us to discuss the possible ways of making an environment map of the school and its surroundings, and the ways in which to identify the most important issues.

We were also impressed by the enthusiasm of the teachers—this was the only session in which we’ve had 5 teachers in attendance! The entire experience left us convinced that this school, by starting young, is on its way to creating environmentally conscious citizens.

Re-viewing Mumbai—Convent of Jesus and Mary (Fort)

11th August 2011

For the students of Fort Convent as well as the GreenLine team, today was a day of many discoveries. Fort Convent being among the most renowned schools in the city, we were eager to meet the students and discuss with them the issues of waste management and waste minimization.

The very first thing that struck us during the session was that the concerns and perceptions of these students from ‘Old Bombay’ are quite different from those of students in other parts of the city. Since the Fort area is largely clean and well-maintained, we realized that waste is not an obvious, glaring problem and so, the issue may often go unnoticed.

For their part, the students were extremely open to the idea that although we may not see where our waste goes, we are responsible for its safe disposal. The children quickly understood that all of us are producers of waste, and that to reduce it, we need to make lifestyle choices that are healthy for ourselves and for the environment.

The session concluded with the teachers, too, expressing their interest in making environmental projects a part of the marking and evaluation system in the school. We came away from the session with the certainty that many of these students will lead the way in adopting and advocating greener living habits.

The Flamingos, Kingfishers, Dolphins and Cheetahs of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Sion

10th August 2011

Before you think that the GreenLine team went on a picnic to a zoo or on a safari without telling you, the title signifies the names of the four groups that were formed at the first ever Green Schools Campaign session at Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC), Sion. The GrenLine team was happy to meet 65 members of the school's Nature Club. 

The students of this school--a new participant in the--were attentive and eager throughout the programme. The session began with the idea that Mother Earth is not very different from our very own homes. The students quickly grasped the concept that the planet is a home to all, and it is our responsibility to take care of her.

The children's response to the movie that followed convinced us of how deeply they appreciate our planet--they clearly felt the need to take definite steps to protect their environment. The session continued with a discussion on the very first activity that the Nature Club will do--a series of interviews with students, teachers, and school staff about the various aspects of water and energy conservation, waste, and responsible lifestyles. Judging by their active participation, we are sure that the school will soon be abuzz with the Green Spirit of these students! 

Happy Green Activism!

St. Joseph's High School, Wadala -- Living the Greater Life!

August 09, 2011

The GreenLine team reached St. Joseph's High School today for its first session in the Green Schools Campaign there this year, and even before starting the session, what we noticed and liked was the motto of the school -- "I WAS BORN FOR GREATER THINGS". While the motto itself is very inspiring, what really made our day was seeing the bright students living up to that belief. Winners of last year's Best New Initiative Award in last year's campaign, the students participated with excellent levels of attention, responsiveness, and most importantly, the understanding that though the problem of waste management is huge, it is still one that can be tackled.

The session began with an address by the Head-Mistress,  Nicole Britto, after which the students watched a short movie on 'Making a Difference'. In the thought-provoking 5 minute exercise that followed, the boys of St. Joseph's showed enthusiasm in not only answering questions, but also being open-minded about all that was discussed. The GreenLine team then went on to presentations dealing with this year's theme of 'Waste Management'. The students discussed with us the first activity they will be doing in the campaign this year--A Waste Audit--since knowing the enemy is helps us tackle it!

St Joseph's is again going to be a school for the others to look out for... the students are bright; the teachers, especially the teachers in-charge, Teachers Padmini and Sunita seem ever-enthusiastic and encouraging; and the Principal, Fr. Bernard Fernandes, looks set to do whatever it takes to make the students as environment-conscious and eco-responsible as possible. Good luck to the school from the GreenLine Team, and Happy Environmental-Activism! 

Planning the Change—Don Bosco High School Naigaon

4th August 2011

Naigaon seems just the perfect place for an Eco Club – on one hand, it abounds with mangroves, fields, little rives and ponds, while on the other hand, this beautiful landscape is scarred by garbage and potholed roads. No dearth of environmental ‘assets’ or ‘problems’. And that is exactly what the newly formed Eco Club of Don Bosco Naigaon will be focusing on during the next month – mapping the environmental assets and problems in their school campus and in the immediate neighbourhood.

As the GreenLine team explained the details of Eco-mapping, the students were quick to grasp the fact that having a good knowledge of the environment they live in, would enable them plan activities for the year ahead that would actually impact their surroundings. Their lively participation made the session extremely interesting and enjoyable.  

The Eco Club is made up of 64 members from Stds. 8th to 10th and is guided by Ms. Deepika. At the end of the session, the members divided themselves into four teams, elected Leaders and Assistant Leaders for each team, and also chose a name for their team. The students will now work in these teams for the Eco-mapping and also for subsequent activities.

The commitment of this school towards bettering the environment was clear from the fact that even the Principal attended a good part of the workshop! As for the students, as soon as the session ended, they excitedly began making plans to get started on the mapping. Naigaon is definitely going to feel the impact of these enthusiastic young environmentalists!