Students of the government-run Upper Primary School, Mankrol, are learning lessons on garbage management in district Aligarh. They dug up a pit on their school premises away from classrooms and now dump all the garbage of classes, like paper, pencil peels, vegetables and fruit peels, dry leaves, and grass in that pit.
“When it gets filled, we cover it with a thick layer of soil. Similarly, another pit was dug up for the same purpose,” said UPS Mankrol, in-charge of Suman Sharma, who has resolved to solve this problem of getting rid of garbage on her own.
“After a few months, when the garbage becomes compost, then we use it in the kitchen garden. The dirtiest spot in our school was the backyard, where the garbage was dumped. Today, it is the most beautiful place with a kitchen garden and hanging garden,” she said.
Aiming to curb malnutrition among school children, the Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture (CISH) will help the state education department develop vegetable and fruit gardens in government schools to improve children’s nutritive value’s mid-day meals and make them aware of the role of seasonal vegetables in maintaining health.
Human resource development has issued instructions to all government schools, up to Class 8, to include the produce from kitchen gardens in the midday meal.
The staff and students carry out this entire exercise. “Through it, our students learn about waste disposal, besides making them more responsible. The practice has introduced a love for nature in them and a love to live in a clean, green environment, said Sharma.
“We take out time to water the plants every day. It is heartening to see that each student participates in this activity. Our school building may not be great, but it is spotless and hygienic. Such activities must be encouraged among all students from an early age. They will be very excited to learn something new and build good, clean habits,” said Neeraj Kumar (class 8).
Make way for the Urban Bagiya.
The Urban Bagiya is an initiative inspired by a zero-wastage lifestyle to create awareness about how to deal with kitchen waste through composting and to inspire people to grow more and more plants in their houses. This is a small but effective step towards preserving Mother Earth, said Dr. Milan Khanna, a gynecologist, and her sister-in-law, Deepti Chopra, a Ph.D. in biochemistry.
The duo is promoting the idea of Urban Bagiya by holding exhibitions and demonstrations. “It can easily be developed at home with plastic compost bins available commercially, or terracotta compost bins or a home-made 14-20-litre bucket with a lid to close it airtightly. Importantly, there should be a provision to collect liquid at the bottom and then to drain it,” said Dr. Khanna.
The compost thus developed is very nutrient-rich organically, odorless, and chemical-free. This is very good for all fruits, vegetables, flowering plants, ornamental plants, and essentially it is good for those living in flats, they said.
“I read up on the technique of composting from kitchen waste and set up the whole system as a pilot project in my house to find out the pros and cons in the process of kitchen waste management. To my surprise, a month’s kitchen waste yielded compost of about 50 kg and around 500 ml of concentrated liquid fertilizer,” Chopra said.
“‘Together We Grow,’ an initiative to promote women entrepreneurs led by Dr. Milan Khanna and Dr. Shilpi Khanna, gave me a platform to showcase my creativity and motivated me to give a talk and brief description of the process. Few people realize that kitchen waste can actually be converted into something very productive and healthy for the environment,” she added.
Due to urbanization, people are always in a rush and have small balcony spaces for plants. This compost is good for urban people as this compost promotes good productivity of fruits, better flowering, brighter flowers, and healthy color of leaves. So, it’s a win-win situation in any condition, Dr. Khanna said.